Staples: It’s clear which regular season scheduling option should the SEC choose

Miramar Beach, Florida. When presented with two options – one reasonable and interesting and the other completely stupid – the debate should not go on for long. The stupid choice must be convincing and the sensible and exciting idea must be embraced.

Once the options are narrowed down to two, discussion of potential regular season scheduling options from the SEC once Oklahoma and Texas joined the league (in 2025 at the latest) should have taken about five seconds. However, SEC’s athletic directors are still debating which model is best after two days of discussions. In any profession, it is always possible to get so deep into the weeds that the obvious decision does not seem obvious. That’s what’s happening on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico this week.

SEC chairs and advisors will join the announcements on Thursday. These people have a lot to worry about. So hopefully you’ll be less likely to get lost in the details. We hope they make the right decision.

I bet that if you made choices without selecting which one is best and which one is dumb, you’ll pick the best without blinking. let’s try it.

• One option might be an eight-game conference schedule without division that features one flat discount per school while the other seven matches are rotated throughout the remainder of the conference’s (soon) 16-team membership. This plan would protect Alabama-Auburn (the iron pot) but not Auburn-Georgia (the oldest rivalry in the Deep South) or Alabama-Tennessee (third Saturday in October). Florida and Georgia will play annually, but Florida and Tennessee will not. She will play Oklahoma and Texas annually. Texas and Texas A&M won’t do that.

• The other option is a nine-game conference schedule without division featuring three fixed opponents for each school while rotating the other six games over the remainder of the conference. This will allow Alabama-Auburn, Auburn-Georgia, Alabama-Tennessee, Oklahoma-Texas, and Texas-Texas A&M to play annually. It may also fuel the fires of some emerging competitions such as LSU-Texas A&M. You will likely create new things, too. For example, it’s a little odd that Arkansas and Oklahoma – the leading universities in neighboring states – have played only 15 times since 1899 and only three times since 1978. And they are probably part of the other’s trio.

Did you notice the idiot? Of course I did. It is a 1-7 model. If a group of so-called intelligent people come together and decide that Texas and Texas A&M—or Georgia and Auburn or Alabama and Tennessee—should not play annually if there is a reasonable possibility, then whoever voted to adopt this model must find a new line of work. They lack the common sense to sell football games for a living and this calls into question their decision-making in all other matters as well. The Big Ten is likely to change its scheduling model in the near future. Can you imagine the league leaders saying “we don’t need Michigan State and Michigan State to play every year?” of course not.

Form 3-6 is the only logical choice. Why is someone fighting her?

The resistance is twofold. Some schools prefer to take a brief view rather than making a choice that will eventually sell more packages of season tickets on their campuses and make more money through SEC’s future media rights deals.

Part of the opposition comes from leaders in certain schools who fear the zero-sum nature of adding a conference game. This means that the half-league is guaranteed another loss every season. With games without conferences, those schools at the bottom of the rankings can try to determine their way to six victories and a bowl game on a mostly empty stadium in a medium-sized city. Another conference game means those schools have to work even harder to get to .500. These schools fear that their teams are not modest enough that they are trying to prevent a model that embraces progress and tradition simultaneously.

But that’s not the only loser considering standing your way from getting better, with more fun games to watch on TV during the regular season. There is fear among few in the league that if the College Football Playoff does not expand, moving to nine conference games could harm the SEC’s chances of continuing to produce National Champions. This is ridiculous. First, the odds of CFP staying at four are slim because the only league that likes four is SEC. An early expansion was blocked in part because the SEC’s acquisition of Oklahoma and Texas stunned the leaders of some other leagues, but after a cooling off period, those leagues will return to the same place they were before the Oklahoma and Texas news. smashed. Most of them need to be expanded. And if you’re reading this space, you know that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wants either an eight-top format or a 12-team format with six places automatically qualifying for conference champions. Either one would allow plenty of room for SEC programs with some scheduling flaws to achieve this area. And in the unexpected case, the CFP stays at four years after the 2025 season, a nine-game schedule likely won’t reduce the SEC’s odds of producing a National Champion in most years. If anything, it would likely increase the likelihood of a losing team being accepted into a four-team system—which has yet to happen in CFP’s eight-season history.

The good news is that the SEC doesn’t have to make a decision this week. He can push this a little bit longer and wait to see if there’s some clarity in the next CFP format. The new schedule format should be in effect upon arrival in Oklahoma and Texas. This is 2025 at the latest. We’ll hold off on any speculation about whether these two can buy their way out of the Big 12 early; So far, there was no indication that they could. But the SEC may also want the new format to be ready for 2024, when the league’s new media rights agreement with ESPN begins. Doing so may require a model decision by late 2022 or early 2023. Paying through 2025 will result in another year’s purchase. “We are setting our own schedule here,” Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Greg Sankey said on Wednesday.

For schools eager for eligibility, it would be wise to remember that schools set NCAA rules. So these schools can simply lobby to change the contest eligibility rule. They will likely find a lot of allies in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12. Understandably, the group of five leagues is dead against lowering the tournament eligibility criterion. But answer this question honestly: Which Boca Raton Bowl would you prefer to watch while gift-wrapping/betting on second-half totals? Do you want Western Kentucky – Appalachian or Mississippi – Minnesota?

And please, don’t start with arguments about the need for dishes to be the reward for a great season. This was true when there were eight dishes. It’s laughable when there are over 40. They’re TV stock for our entertainment, and our watch outfits suggest adding more could make some more coins for ESPN.

Proponents of Form 3-6 would also likely extend an olive branch to those schools by rescinding the requirement that at least one Power 5 school be booked on the non-conference schedule. So Georgia could still schedule Georgia Tech annually and the Clemson/Florida type in most years—which might even happen with the SEC’s nine-game schedule—and Arkansas could schedule Rice instead of Oklahoma or Notre Dame. I don’t think that would make the Arkansas fans happy. I don’t think that will make them buy more tickets. But it will reduce the probability of occurrence 5-7. (The odd thing about all of this is that Arkansas and Mississippi schedules would normally be easier without being in the meat grinder that’s west of the current SEC.)

For years, fans of the Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 schools believed that the SEC would always stick to eight conference games to reduce the potential for losses for CFP purposes. The group within the SEC that wants to move to nine conference games doesn’t care about any outside pressure to harmonize scheduling models across conferences. This is market driven. The current model – eight team matches in two divisions of seven teams and one permanent crossover opponent – has left match schedules outdated. This has resulted in lower sales of season tickets in some schools and not attending shows at places that still sell all of their season tickets. (No-show eventually turned into no-sale.) Texas A&M has been in the league for 10 seasons and played football in Georgia once. The Bulldogs did not play SEC at Kyle Field.

What’s interesting is that schedule corruption was the result of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) trying hard to protect tradition. Retaining the Alabama-Tennessee game annually was the main reason why cross-section opponents did not rotate each year. Now the SEC has a chance to protect this tradition and create more diversity.

If school leaders can get out of their way and make the clear decision.

(Photo of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young scrambling for his first goal against Tennessee: Gary Cosby Jr/USA TODAY)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *