“Les is looking out for himself, simple as that.”

If I can return to the scene of Les Miles’ cri de coeur for a minute… it seems that Matt Hayes has Lester’s back.  Here’s his case:

“All I want,” says Miles, “is a fair and equitable deal for all involved.”

Right now, it’s anything but. No matter how you look at it, Auburn, LSU and Florida are impacted most by the SEC’s standing scheduling rule of one permanent opponent from the opposite division.

LSU and Florida play each other; Auburn plays Georgia. Meanwhile, SEC kingpin Alabama plays Tennessee.

Why, you ask? Tradition, Mike Slive says.

Considering how far the SEC has come under Slive’s watch, and how he has set up the conference for the future, it’s hard to argue with that decision. That is, until you look at the numbers.

In the last 10 years, LSU and Florida have both been ranked in their game nine times. In the last 10 years, Alabama and Tennessee have both been ranked in their game once.

Wait, it gets much more compelling.

Since 2000, Auburn has played Florida and Georgia—clearly the East Division’s heavyweight programs—a total of 19 times. LSU has played Florida and Georgia 17 times, and Florida has played LSU and Alabama 17 times.

Meanwhile, Alabama has played Florida and Georgia eight times—the lowest total of any West Division team. Alabama’s argument is it plays Tennessee, which started the BCS era with a national title but has recently fallen on hard times.  [Emphasis added.]

Now Hayes is being a wee bit disingenuous here – at the start of the cycle he cites, Georgia was not one of the East’s heavyweights – but he gets at what’s really eating up Les twice in that passage.  Quite simply, every year Alabama plays Tennessee and LSU plays Florida.  Right now, that’s a lousy tradeoff for the Tigers.  And in the here and now, nobody should have the time for trivialities like tradition.

That’s assuming that this is even about tradition.  Hayes isn’t even willing to credit that as a motive.

At the mercy of Slive, who said earlier this month that he’s “willing to look at all scheduling models” at the SEC’s annual spring meetings next week in Destin, Fla. The hurdle for LSU, Florida and Auburn: the remaining 11 teams are happy with their permanent partners because the series (from each point of view) is winnable.

I feel kinda dirty now for wanting to preserve a series that’s more than a century old.  And eleven SEC teams all think their permanent rivalry games are winnable?  Hmm… maybe Big Game Bob is right about the conference.



Filed under SEC Football, Wit And Wisdom From The Hat

31 responses to ““Les is looking out for himself, simple as that.”

  1. Don’t feel “dirty” Senator…It is noble to want to preserve traditions.


  2. Irishdawg

    Am I wrong, or didn’t LSU beat a struggling Florida team like a circus bear 2 years ago? Where is it decreed that Florida is always going to be strong and Auburn and Tennessee always will be weak from this point forward? I doubt Miles would be bitching if Florida sucked right now and Tennessee was a strong program.


  3. No you are not wrong. Beaten like a circus bear indeed. Never heard it put that way, but I like it!


  4. Hogbody Spradlin

    What goes around comes around. Spurrier’s been quiet this year.


    • Debby Balcer

      Of course he is he has the easier path to Atlanta but you won’t hear him saying so if they win it will be because they were the best not because they lucked out with their schedule.


    • Dog in Fla

      At least until Showtime in Destin, Steve’s happy with Les liking some french-fried potatoes with that wahburger


  5. Steve is plotting evil in the East. That won’t stop Georgia. He might have the W’s, but no SEC Championships for him.


  6. The984

    Part of his argument is that Tennessee and Bama have both been ranked in only one meeting over the past ten years. Well, Bama’s been on that Nick Saban tear really only since 2008. In the five years prior to that, Bama wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire save for its one random 10-2 season; that’s why they canned Shula after all. So part of the reason they’ve only both been ranked going into that game once is probably due to the fact that they’ve both fallen on hard times over the past 10-15 years.


  7. Go Dawgs!

    Guess what? LSU and Florida should both think the series is winnable too, because it is. Neither one is really getting over on the other in the series. Though they’ve managed to throw a wrench in things for each other, neither one has kept the other out of a national title game they may have been in otherwise, either. Suck it up, Les. Sheesh.


  8. Les seems to be the only one with a problem. Boom hasn’t complained publicly about the LSU series. I’ve never heard a peep from Auburn that they have it unfair playing us while the Tide plays UT. It seems to me that this whole thing is 13-1 in favor of the status quo regarding permanent cross-divisional scheduling.


    • The984

      12-2 in favor. Don’t forget Spurrier crowing (but only when it suits him).


    • Slaw Dawg

      Oh God, you’re prompting me to do something that may get me sent to my version of CFB Hell, and that’s to pay a grudging compliment to AU fans. ‘Cause I think you’re right about the absence of whining from them about having to play UGA every year, despite UGA’s recent dominance. Maybe it’s because they’re aware that, historically, the series is dead even, or maybe it’s because they’ve been everybody’s bitch the last 2 years so no need to single out Georgia, or maybe, God Help Me, they actually revere the tradition itself or just want a chance to get back at us. And while I’m getting all soft and mushy, I also recall that they probably took a bigger hit than anyone else for the sake of moving to divisions by giving up their time honored rivalries with UF and UT, rivalry games they enjoyed BECAUSE they were tough.

      And that’s the thing. Isn’t the point of football or any sport to play the tough opponents? Just boggles my mind that a head coach in any sport would bellyache (esp in public) about having to play an opponent that, yep, might actually have a chance to beat your team. Geez…


      • Dog in Fla

        Auburn doesn’t moan about ending each regular SEC season with Georgia and Alabama either. On the other hand, maybe they’re so used to getting beat they think it’s normal.


        • 79dawg

          Slaw nails it – is college football about winning, or winning something worthwhile. Sure, we can beat the **** out of the Little Sisters of the Poor 12 times a year, but what’s the fun in that? There’s a reason the seats aren’t full for those games….
          20 years ago, the vast majority fans were pleased with a 10 win season and viewed it as a success. Now, if your team doesn’t go undefeated and win the championship, many (most?) fans are ready to jump off a bridge and blow everything up. Only 1 team can win the championship each year…
          What is driving the notion of “fair” or watered-down schedules is the unrealistic belief by many fans (and administrators) that their team should win every game and a championship every year, and the pressure that puts on coaches like Lester.
          Of course, asking people to be more realistic these days is like asking them to hack off their arm….


  9. MGW

    It is true that Bama’s cross division schedule has been weak lately, but just go to 9 conference games and the problem is solved. Hell, I’m for moving Bama and Auburn east and giving the west Mizzou and someone else… Vandy… whatever. If its unbalanced, who gives a shit? I want good football to watch, not for every single team to be gunning for the easiest path to a championship. Play an awesome conference schedule and force everyone to stop scheduling cupcakes, and the best team will still shake out as the champion every year as long as the SEC gets a team into the playoff.


    • Cojones

      Think that many of us are with you on that except the rest of the conference and CFB in general want to watch. All they want is a perfect record, never mind the sos, so they can plead “perfect record” to get into the NC.


  10. Bobby Fenton

    I see both sides of it. On one hand, it’s hard to deny that a big reason that UGA was in Atlanta the past two years was because of who South Carolina had to play that UGA didn’t.

    On the other hand, preserving the games that make the SEC what it is and make college football better than the rest has to win the day. They want to chip away at all these things, and it’s never all at once so it never SEEMS that bad, but altogether they are slowly eroding what makes college football great, and I don’t like that.

    A good compromise on this would be to go to 9 conference games and a 6-1-2 format. That would lessen the effects of the permanent crossover games swinging the conference standings at least somewhat.


    • AlphaDawg

      SC wasn’t in Atlanta 2 years ago because they got beat by a retched UA team. Beat AU and they would have got stomped by LSU instead of us.


  11. The thought of not playing AUB every year sucks. The thought of only SEC East games counting also sucks. Go to 9 games and be done with it. Not that hard.


  12. mike in orlando

    Auburn-Georgia, Alabama-Tennessee and — surprisingly — Ole Miss-Vandy are legitimately old SEC rivalries and are ‘tradition’ games. No other cross-division games come close. Can you force ‘tradition’? The SEC is trying with the likes of Mississippi State-Kentucky and Arkansas-South Carolina. Yawn.


  13. Dog in Fla

    According to Matt Hayes recent baseball article on the indentureds, Matthew “Thomas had two choices: Learn a hard lesson and grow from it, or throw a tantrum. Where’s a pacifier when you really need it.”


    Why does Matt’s abolitionist movement article not state that The “Hat had two choices: Learn a hard lesson and grow from it, or throw a tantrum. Where’s a pacifier when you really need it.”

    Does Matt do it for the children? Or, unlike Mountain West Commissioner Thompson, does Matt not “like the opportunity for the student-athletes.”


  14. Cojones

    Happiness is watching the LSU-FU game. One uffum is gonna lose and I’ll giggle like a schoolgirl at the outcome.

    Bluto, you can take a bath when we kick their butts for payback in Sanford. Of course then you might not want to wash the “good dirt” off.

    This ole Dawg is just going to find a shitpile after that game and roll over and over in it. Sic’em Dawgs!!


  15. Rebar

    I’m suprised at Les. SEC coaches don’t cry about the schedule, unless they know they don’t really belong (See Spurrier). I like Coach Richt’s attitude of give me the schedule and we’ll get ready and go.


  16. D.N. Nation

    Hey, Les- Next time, make sure Mettenberger isn’t ogling the co-eds at the Swamp in lieu of actually completing passes, and you won’t have a problem.

    I am so very much hoping we detonate that team in Sanford this fall.


  17. mdcgtp

    Tracy, (looking at Miles): “Coach Miles, you made comments this offseason about having to play Florida every year while Alabama plays a rebuilding Tennesse program. Does the atmophere this afternoon here in Tiger Stadium change your mind?’

    Les: “You are right Tracy. What a great atmosphere. Does it get any better than this? Two great football teams getting ready to play a great game. (Nevermind that LSU has already lost to UGA in a laugher and UF is still in the bottom quartile of every offesive category). I told our guys that this is why they came to LSU. they are damn strong bunch of guys and like to compete. I don’t have to say much”

    Verne: “Thanks Tracy.”


  18. Hobnail_Boot

    I’m gonna do something I normally don’t, and that is to give credit to UT for not bitching about this. They “get the short end” as of late, having to play Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and SCU every year.

    They’re also secure enough in their storied self identity to know that it’s their own current derptitude that has as much to do with said “short stick” as does the strength of their rivals.


  19. Mike

    There are not many people that consider LSU as one of Florida’s top two or three SEC rivals. Most Florida fans would point to Auburn as a bigger SEC West rival to Florida.