Judging from this article, a majority of Southeastern Conference athletic directors favor sticking with an eight-game conference schedule. What’s interesting is that there isn’t a single mention in the article about television contracts being a motivating factor in the equation. Instead, it’s almost all about the playoffs.
“I think we’ve done a really good job convincing the country that a one-loss SEC team deserves to play for the national title,” said Mississippi State Athletics Director Scott Stricklin, who supports eight games. “Are we going to be able to make the same argument for a two-loss team, which would happen more often (with nine games)?”
I think Stricklin’s missing the point there. Greg McGarity, however, isn’t.
Said Georgia Athletics Director Greg McGarity: “The eight-game formula has served us well in the national championship discussion. Is that the right pattern moving forward? I think a lot of us think it is until proven differently.”
In other words, until they see proof that the conference is getting burned by the selection committee on the strength of schedule front, nobody’s inclined to do much of anything.
Which means we should expect scheduling to continue to be a season-by-season process. And there’s something else we should continue to expect – a steady diet of cupcakes. The recipe for those comes from the perfect combination of arrogance…
“I’m not worried about other schools playing nine games in their league. In some leagues, the bottom half of their league is cupcakes. So big deal you’re playing nine. You’re playing a cupcake anyway.”
… (because all cupcakes are equal, right?) and finances.
Gate revenue is also an argument made by some ADs for eight games. For Florida and Georgia, which annually play a neutral-site SEC game and an ACC rival that fluctuates home and away, nine SEC games would mean only six home games every other year.
“That’s a net loss of over $2 million what you generate every home game,” McGarity said. “So over a 10-year period, in today’s dollars, you’re leaving $10 to $11 million on the table.”
By negative implication, I assume that means Slive hasn’t been able to get the networks to pony up enough for the improved inventory a ninth conference game offers.
So expect Slive to be reactive instead of proactive on this front. That means we’ll have plenty of SEC coaches bitching about scheduling for the foreseeable future. And then even more bitching when one of them gets screwed out of a playoff spot. Oh, goody for that.