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Jeff Schultz

SEC needs to expand conference schedules (column preview)

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SEC football fans deserve to see more conference opponents.

SEC football fans deserve to see more conference opponents.

The SEC’s coaches and athletic directors are balking at going to nine-game conference schedules. The latest evidence of this comes from LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who told the Baton Rouge Advocate, “That means seven more losses for certain teams.”

Well. So much for the Big Bad SEC.

I’ll have a full column on this later today. But the SEC will be making a mistake on several levels if it doesn’t expand from the current eight-conference/four non-conference-game format.

The Pacific 12 and Big 12 already play nine conference games. The Big Ten will expand to nine games beginning in 2016. Of the five major conferences, the only other hold out is the ACC. The ACC has flip-flopped on the issue but also seems to be moving in that direction. Complicating the situation is its strange agreement with Notre Dame, which remains independent in football but plays up to five ACC opponents a season. (If Notre Dame just joined the ACC full-time, it would simplify things.)

Back to the SEC: What’s really going on here is coaches don’t want one more chance on their schedule to lose a game. They would rather schedule Acme Tech and TV Repair to pocket an easy win, even if the stadium is half-empty by the third quarter. There is also some concern by schools like Georgia (Georgia Tech) and Florida (Florida State) that have major rivals, creating tougher schedules than the schools that don’t.

But using that as an excuse to not expand is short-sighted, and I’ll get into that in the column later on MyAJC.com.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full column (subscription).

This will all to a head at next month’s SEC Spring meetings in Destin, when school presidents take a vote. There are at least three reasons why the Presidents need to — and I believe ultimately will — pass the nine-game schedules: 1) Television; 2) Money; 3) Playoffs.

Here’s your chance to weigh in on the subject. Should SEC schedules include nine conference games?

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