I share John Pennington’s position on the SEC’s conference scheduling – nine games makes way too much sense on too many levels to dismiss – but I’m not sure I share his confidence at this point that the folks running the show will eventually see the light on that.
The two big motivating factors would seem to be creating more broadcasting product to peddle and dealing with the postseason perspective of being the only power conference not engaged in a nine-game conference schedule. As to the former, the SEC doesn’t seem too concerned at this point, as it’s sticking to its eight-game guns even as it negotiates new deals with ESPN and CBS. If the latter backs down and throws more money in the pot, there’s even less to worry about.
As for the strength of schedule issue, that’s a matter for the selection committee and we don’t know how that will shape up. The composition of the membership and the… um… flexibility the members are given to create the playoff pool will tell the tale there. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Slive will roll up his sleeves and work those rules to favor his conference as much as possible.
I just don’t see much pressure to move on this issue right now. Slive’s been on a roll with the remaking of his conference and the postseason. It’s hard to see where he’s lost a significant battle so far. If he and his presidents are arrogant about the course of things, it’s understandable. Singleton’s talk strikes me as little more than keeping options open, options that aren’t really needed now.
If you’re looking for a tell that things have really changed, keep an eye on out of conference cupcake scheduling. The McGaritys of the conference didn’t want to shell out cancellation fees for ditching those games to accommodate a larger conference schedule immediately, but if you see less of those matchups being arranged down the road, that may be a clear indication that the SEC is really hedging its bets.