While showering this morning, it occurred to me that there’s another possible explanation that explains Les Miles’ sudden embrace of Steve Spurrier’s division record über alles proposal. Miles isn’t being gutless so much as calculating. He’s playing some version of three-dimensional chess against the SEC office.
Don’t scoff. Here’s the math as he sees it. LSU has Florida as a permanent cross-division opponent. Even if you don’t believe Will Muschamp is the second coming of Steve Spurrier, the Gators recruit too well over time ever to be any less than a tough out. Now, Auburn has Georgia and TAMU winds up with South Carolina. But that SOB Saban has an enfeebled Tennessee that’s in the midst of a rebuilding program that seems to have gone on for half a decade now (and if SOD gets canned after this season probably has another five years to go). And the rest of Miles’ division gets the Jugdish, Mohammet and Lonny of the East.
That wasn’t so great when you played three cross-division opponents, but it was tolerable because things rotated often enough to spread the burdens and benefits. But what was unlikely under the old scenario – and, remember, it’s not as if what Spurrier has sour grapes about has been a routine occurrence – becomes a much greater possibility under a two-crosser arrangement. Going forward, the best hand Miles can hope to be dealt is Florida and an easy team. That’s the worst case for several of his divisional rivals. And on the flip side, years like this, when LSU plays Florida and South Carolina, will never be a possibility for some.
That’s what sticks in Les Miles’ craw right now. So what can he do to fight city hall? Given that he doesn’t want a nine-game conference schedule, which would at least restore the old cross-divisional equilibrium, he’s only got one other choice: kill the permanent cross-divisional opponent requirement. And the way he’s figured to do that is to build support for a proposal that anybody outside of Columbia, South Carolina thinks is pretty silly. But it’s leverage. From there, the deal is pretty obvious: the coaches back off on Spurrier’s proposal and the conference gives up the permanent cross-divisional game. Who doesn’t love a fair compromise?
Honestly, I have no idea if this is what’s going on inside ol’ Lester’s head. (Does anybody besides Miles know what’s going on inside there?) But if you see more coaches jumping on board with Miles and Spurrier as Destin approaches, you might want to keep this in mind.
And if it happens that I’m right about this, remind yourselves that this is what we get because Mike Slive can’t competently negotiate a TV contract.