Doing the conference scheduling shuffle

Over at The Athletic yesterday, Aaron Suttles and Seth Emerson ($$) filed a story about where things stand with the SEC’s scheduling logistics in the face of its soon to be 16-school size.  Picking my way through the bones, here are what seem to be the key points:

  • There seems to be a priority being placed on schools facing each other in football more often than once every six years.  According to Greg Sankey, that is something the conference planned to address even before this last round of expansion.
  • The conference has not walked away from staying with a divisional format, but it’s almost impossible to square that with a more frequent rotation between teams unless the SEC either goes to a nine-game conference schedule or does away with its permanent cross-division rivalry games.
  • Speaking of expanding the conference schedule, it sounds like there’s still a fair amount of resistance to walking away from the current eight-game format because of the potential impact on bowl eligibility for some schools.
  • The top two priorities are exactly what you’d expect — not screwing up the cash cow that is the SECCG and now harming the conference’s chances to place team(s) in the SECCG.

There’s the expected “all options are on the table” talk there, and in this case, I’m sure that’s not an exaggeration.  The problem Sankey has is that there’s no magic formula that will satisfy every school.  Alabama and Georgia, for example, have bigger fish to fry than worrying about bowl eligibility, but that’s of little comfort at places like, say, Missouri and South Carolina, which scraped their way to bowl games last season.

Another consideration not fleshed out is how the hierarchy of schools is determined if the SEC ditches the divisional format.  Whether you call it division-less or pods, who decides the top two teams to earn berths in the SECCG?  Is that something the conference subcontracts to the CFP selection committee?  (Probably.)

My guess is that divisional play is about to be sacrificed on the altar of postseason efficiency, although look for Sankey and Company to sell it as really being about fan friendliness.  Should that be where things wind up, I’ll be curious to see if there’s any change to the way we all perceive the SECCG, especially once the day comes when the CFP expands to twelve.

38 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

38 responses to “Doing the conference scheduling shuffle

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    When you mentioned the ‘chances to place teams’ did you mean SECCG or playoffs?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. stoopnagle

    If we get to keep Auburn and Florida as annual games and play unseen teams more frequently, then it’s a win for me. I don’t really give a shit about their motivations.

    Liked by 7 people

    • The former is the only thing that matters to me. If we lose any of the traditional Big 3 as annual games for the privilege of going to Starkville or College Station more frequently, it’s a no go for me. The suits in Birmingham created this problem by raiding the Big 12 over the last 10 years. They have a responsibility to maintain the traditional rivalries (and rekindle some) that have made the SEC where it means more.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Down Island Way

        $EC where it means more. ($hould these issue$ get ironed out to most everyone$ $ati$faction, expansion to “the $uper league” twenty is on the horizon)…

        Liked by 3 people

      • akascuba

        More money for those running the sport is the main driver of all thing regarding CFB. Hopefully our rivalry games survive this round of greed games. As much as I want to visit College Station, Norman and Austin crushing FU, AU and GT just mean more.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Russ

        Same here, EE. Even when the league was much smaller, we went many years without traveling to LSU, MSU or Bama. While I’d prefer to see other teams more frequently, I don’t want to do it at the expense of Florida, Auburn or Tech (OOC).

        Like

      • otto1980

        Agreed, Auburn and the Handbags are my must keep games. I’d like to see LSU/UF remain, as well as Bama/UT. I tend to watch the traditional games, the same in racing in various series. NASCAR/ESPN messed with dates, dropped tracks and lost fans, the Big12 dropped OU/Nebraska and the conference never gelled.

        Don’t screw with tradition. My interest will diminish greatly very rapidly if they do as it has with other things Mickey Mouse has effed up. And I could use the money savings from cancelling ESPN.

        Liked by 5 people

      • stoopnagle

        I didn’t think about COFH being impacted. I can’t imagine we’d ever give that up – at least not for another 5-6 years. I wouldn’t want that to be impacted and I wouldn’t want a 9th SEC game to keep us from having a consistent, strong, out of region, non-conference game.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. 9 conference games might be a dealbreaker, but I think the permanent rivals idea from Matt Hinton is the best solution from a fan perspective. You could quibble with the rivals he selected, but it seems pretty solid to me and you play everyone in the conference in a 2 year span.

    Liked by 2 people

    • valdawgsta

      This is very good. I like the 3 permanents and rotate everybody else because it strikes the perfect balance of giving unique interesting matchups we didn’t see much with the divisional format, while also protecting the big rivalries that need to be played every year. Really hope the league goes this route.

      I know some may not like the idea of the CFP selecting SEC title game participants but I don’t see that as any more flawed than the divisional format sometimes allowing a 3rd or 4th best team in the league to make it to Atlanta.

      Liked by 1 person

      • silverbritches02

        I’d rather play Tennessee every year than South Carolina. We’re their #1 rival in the conference, but they’re like #5 or 6 for us.

        Liked by 3 people

        • We’re getting South Carolina every year. Even the Gamecocks deserve to have a real in-conference rival. The question is whether we’re going to lose the DSOR with the Barn. We’ve played South Carolina more than Tennessee over the life of the program.

          Liked by 5 people

      • Alkaline5

        If the CFP standings end up determining the SECCG participants, then I think that’s a huge opportunity missed by the SEC brass. It will basically mean that the conference’s second-best CFP contender is guaranteed to take a loss and risk getting knocked out of the next week’s rankings. Plus it will water down the meaning of regular-season conference games if the actual standings take a backseat to the fickleness of national perception.
        On the flipside, if the SECCG participants are determined by conference standings then 1) not only are late-season games more directly meaningful, 2) it could also mean your SECCG game participants will have been less likely to have faced each other in the regular season, but 3) most importantly the SEC team that’s “second” in the CFP will frequently find itself in 3rd or 4th place in the final conference standings (a feature, not a bug IMO). All of which helps get more SEC teams into the CFP AND make the regular season more interesting, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

    • otto1980

      LSU / UF and LSU / Ark are the greatest games lost. I could stomach it. I wish they could keep LSU / UF but which ever team is down wants to end that series.

      Arkie picks up 2 SWC rivals and they need to recruit Texas. LSU has Ole Miss which is big for those 2, LSU keeps Bama and A&M not bad.

      Liked by 1 person

    • PTC DAWG

      This seems fair enough…now do it with 8 conference games..which is where they will be for a few years.

      Like

  4. lincolndawg

    9 conference games is the answer. If other schools are worried about bowl eligibility, they need to take the steps as a program to make sure that issue gets fixed. It isn’t the conference’s responsibility to make sure teams get an easy enough schedule to attain bowl eligibility.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. theotherdoug

    I think they want to hold off on nine games, and use that as a bargaining chip for more money from ESPN in a few years. I wonder if ESPN is willing to pat more today for a nine conference games. I think the answer is yes.

    I also wonder if we’re about to be done with the requirement to win 6 games to go to a bowl. You know, money.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. archiecreek

    Bowl games??
    You want to talk about bowl games??
    Talk to Tejas AM about the importance of bowl games!!
    (The 12th person is ded!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. miltondawg

    With the ACC poised to eliminate divisions and going to a 3-5-5 model pending the NCAA expected move to remove the requirement for divisions to have a conference championship game in conferences of 12 or more teams later this month, it wouldn’t surprise me if the SEC did the same with a plan to go 3-6-6 once Texas and OU join.

    Liked by 1 person

    • otto1980

      I am fine with Aubie, Handbags, and being realistic the Chickens (Eethomaswfne is correct) besides who wants to go to Kneeland every other year and keep your ACL surgeon in business.

      Liked by 3 people

      • miltondawg

        I’d prefer Auburn, Florida and Kentucky personally if they would require that the Kentucky game was always in October so that every other year I could go up and watch the races at Keeneland on Friday.

        Liked by 2 people

        • otto1980

          Agreed but realistically I don’t see it.

          I’d rather go 5 permanents, not going to College Station, or Norman doesn’t bother me as much as not going to Kentucky or giving up LSU/UF, LSU/Ark.

          UGA and LSU have been in the same conference for a century and rarely played prior to the ’92 SEC split.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. 79dawg

    At this point, the 6-win bowl requirement is pretty meaningless; why don’t just go to 60 bowl games so everyone gets one if that’s what they really want, what’s a couple of more bowl games anyway….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ozam

    Imho this discussion is becoming increasingly moot. With free agency and NIL, I suspect college football will have an entirely different landscape within 5 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mddawg

    They’ll destroy all of the rivalries that are part of what makes the sport so great. Then they’ll blame NIL and the transfer portal when no one wants to watch the games anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Someone show me a plan for when the SEC is 24 teams in five years.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t really care about the divisional format, so long as our historical rivalries are protected. I also look forward to the opportunity to play Ole Miss (historically a team we played regularly) more often, as I grew up hearing stories of great UGA/Ole Miss games from my grandfather.

    A Pod-based solution makes the most sense to me, but I also know there are significant challenges to that as well.

    Like

  13. Saw a 4 pod format…UGA, Bama, Gators and Auburn together. Brutal, but saves Jax and Iron Bowl. Same for pod with Texas, OK, Ark and TAMU. Vols and USCe fight for one and LSU is gifted the Miss schools. But that leads to a 4 team SEC playoff, especially if they waive the extra game. Huge revenue potential in the new TV contract. Not a fan of this, but would bet we end up there by 2026.

    Like

  14. PTC DAWG

    F the barn and their hoses…all our game with them does is help their recruiting in Georgia. I’d gladly play some of the others more often. YMMV. UF in Jax is the only one I would hate to lose annually.

    Like

  15. ZeroPOINTzero

    In confused by the desire to make a bowl game steering the ship when many schools just opted out of bowls altogether during Covid if their season was meh.

    Like

  16. Hobnail_Boot

    The fact that we still haven’t been to college station and won’t until 2024?

    Yeah, I don’t want these idiots to you have the ability to take Auburn off of our permanent schedule.

    Liked by 1 person

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