Posted: 8:56 am Monday, April 28th, 2014

SEC blew it by not expanding to 9 games 

By Jeff Schultz

Alabama's Nick Saban was the only coach who favored a nine-game schedule. (AP)

Alabama’s Nick Saban was the only coach who favored a nine-game schedule. (AP)

The “C” in SEC now stands for cowards.

The SEC’s presidents, taking a cue from coaches worried about their jobs and athletic directors worried about bowl games, effectively voted to change nothing in its football scheduling format Sunday night. Rather than requiring schools to play nine of its 12 games against conference opponents, the direction most major conferences are going in, the SEC will stick with the eight-game mandate.

In other words, keep the Coastal Carolinas, Appalachian State and Austin Peays of the world on speed dial. Because aren’t those are the games everybody really wants to see? Or not.

There was one scheduling change approved in a special SEC meeting of presidents Sunday night. Beginning in 2016, all schools must play one game against one of the other five “power” conferences: Big Ten, Pac-12 Big 12 and ACC. But amid all of the spin coming out of SEC headquarters in Birmingham, this effectively changes nothing for many schools. Georgia already plays Georgia Tech, Florida plays Florida State, etc.

I wrote about the scheduling issue last month. You can find subscription column linked here.

The SEC believes that mandating one out-of-conference schedule against a power conference will satisfy a need to increase the conference’s overall strength-of-schedule going into college football’s new playoff format. But there are only four SEC schools that don’t play another “Big 5″ conference in 2014 (Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt),and there were only three last year (Arkansas, Texas A&M and Kentucky).

As I wrote last month, the Pac-12 and Big 12 already play nine-game schedules and the Big Ten approved going to nine games beginning in 2016. The ACC was close to expanding to a nine-game format but then balked, primarily because of its strange arrangement with Notre Dame (which remains a football independent, but plays up to five ACC opponents per season).

Alabama coach Nick Saban is the only conference coach who supports going to nine games. The others seem to lack much courage. Their general concern is an expanded schedule could potentially shrink their projected win total, and therefore affect their job security.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told me in March he was concerned that going to nine games would require the Bulldogs to play 10 games against major conferences (including the Tech game), and he was concerned about the potential loss of a home game every other year.

He lost me with those arguments, as well as this one: “What does it say if [the players] have to be at their very best for nine conference games a year, plus a 10th (rivalry) game. I think some kids would love to say, ‘Let’s start out with a softy.’”

One would think that with the new SEC Network needing something to drive subscriptions and attendance at home games on some campuses declining, another conference opponent would’ve been a good thing. But coaches and athletic directors apparently don’t want to take that chance.

I also get the feeling that Purdue and Iowa State are going to become very popular scheduling targets for SEC athletic directors.

348 comments
GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

"The “C” in SEC now stands for cowards."  That's useless hyperbole.  It's strategy, not cowardice.  The only way that you can begin to make that argument is if you admit that the SEC is far superior to all other conferences and that playing against an FBS opponent from one of the other Big 5s is clearly a downgrade.  Otherwise, you're simply leveling the playing field and not putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage. 

In your previous column, you indicated that this would mean that the SEC wasn't the "Big, Bad" if they didn't go to a 9 game conference schedule.  This will actually go much further in determining that than beating up on each other ever would.

RxDawg
RxDawg

I don't believe that you believe what you wrote here Jeff.

SinceVince
SinceVince

Why should Howdy Doody agree to nine conference games? Heck we cant even beat Vandy nowadays with our clown coaching staff.

gbal
gbal

I thin 14 AD's and Head Coaches know whats best over a blog writer....


And what was at risk here was stronger out of conference match-ups. (ie Clemson or Ga Tech) I say we have more to gain or loose by playing tougher OOC opponents than another SEC team. It makes the case that the SEC is the stronger (or not).

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

Hawks one home win from knocking off the #1 seed in the East and the headlines are dog, dog, dog. 


AJC sports lazy lazy lazy

RedandBlackDAWG
RedandBlackDAWG

I would rather see first, the elimination of FCS contests, and then if possible, a 9 game conference schedule. At the same time, the SEC is probably the most competitive conference in the country with a lot of good teams so having them beat up each other for 9 games each year, could make it harder for the SEC to get into the championship series as the NCAA has now set it up.

I would like to see the SEC have some type of agreement with the big 10 though or another major conference, to have at least three non conference match ups a year between the conferences, so the big 10 in particular could end their dreams earlier, rather than waiting until they get into a lucrative bowl game, or championship series only to  get defeated by a SEC team.

Electra
Electra

POS writer and paper.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Cowards? Come on jeff. What strong team is the big 10 or other conference gonna play with a 9th game? A lot of 2 team (at best) conferences out there. A few more than 2 in the SEC.

Kinda crazy to compare a 9 game big 10, acc, etc. As some kind of major strength thing to match up to the SEC.

dmccloud
dmccloud

Top 5 toughest schedules in the nation in 2013:


1.  Tennessee

2.  Auburn

3.  Georgia

4.  Mississippi State

5.  Texas A&M


Florida, Ole Miss, Missouri and South Carolina were in the top 20 for toughest schedules, with Arkansas and Kentucky at #27 and 28 respectively.  How does playing the toughest schedules in the country make the SEC cowards?  Note that A&M, Arkansas, and Kentucky were schools that did not play a team from the power conferences last year, yet still were in the top 30 for toughest schedules in the country.  That's how tough the SEC schedule is.

FlatTire
FlatTire

Cowards?

Let us know when the Big 10 decides to field a bunch of football teams in their conference


Michigan and Ohio St is all there is with an occasional year or two every decade or so of Michigan St


Let us know when the Big 10 decides to bring in FBS level schools into their conference

Maryland and Rutgers LOL; great choices; LOL now those are some traditional powerhouse football programs


LOL
LOL
LOL

JaySly
JaySly

with alabama's weak schedule they will be dominated the sec west for years---ga has to play a lot harder schedule-nick get what he want---they own the sec

SECFactFinder
SECFactFinder

Would have liked to seen the conference go to a 9 game schedule, in the 8-1-0 or 8-0-1 format. Those schools that wanted to keep their cross divisional rivalries could have kept them.

The SEC elite teams already play a 9th conference game and that game has proven to be a title play in game for 8 out of the last 10 years.

No other conference can come close to that draw.

The other conferences each year cry and complain about the SEC in some form or fashion.

Let's review past complaints:

Recruiting

Bump Rule

Camps

Early enrolled

Television rights

Number of signees

Prop 48 acceptance

SEC coaches salaries

Now schedules....

LEE3333
LEE3333

Shultz...the C stands for you not having a CLUE.  First, the most important part of maintaining the current format is that the Georgia/Auburn rivalry, the South's oldest rivalry will continue uninterrupted. After that, its all window dressing.  One more conference game would not in any way guarantee that the strength of schedule for all conference members would be greater.  


Some of you also don't seem to be able to grasp just how important those million dollar payouts are to some of the small budget programs that every few years are able to schedule a game.  Their kids also live to be able to play in those big SEC stadiums.


For all that and a lot more, I applaud the SEC for having done the right thing, atleast for now.  Ofcourse, the conference could do what should be done and move Auburn to the East and Mizzou to the West where they each belong geographically.

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

@Bubbatavious  Yeah after pasting them 48-3 the year before. You act like it's been an every year occurrence. 

jerunamo
jerunamo

extremely lazy and bias.

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

@RedandBlackDAWG  Your dream ends in August. I'm sure the B1G will take their lucrative bowl game or the CS and pull up their pants just like the SECowards. 


You're a coat tail rider. Win something yourself for once instead of being unranked and losing to Vanderbilt  and Nebraska.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@HotDawg Once again, ACC 2-0 in BCS SEC 0-2 in BCS in 2013. Then you are clueless enough to belittle the conference you have lost 2 of your last 3 bowl games against. Hope your getting some sleep.

POAD2014
POAD2014

@dmccloud  That is because the SEC is given too much credit ans most of those teams will be over ranked to start the season. The BS preseason rankings overinflate their SoS. UGa wa top 6 team to start the season then didn't even end up in the top 25.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@FlatTire  

Yep - bunch of wussies in the B1G.  What kind of football history do schools like Nebraska and Penn State have?

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

LOL....Hell boy get a grip. As of today the teams in the West are better than the East. Things change. Grow a pair. Beat Vandy and we might listen to you whine. People tend to listen to folks that have beaten someone that has beaten someobdy. As of today You Ain't It!

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Heard a rumor that all of the 2014 Bama class qualified. I am not if that is true but it would be huge if Bo made it.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@LEE3333  

The financial woes of FCS teams are NOT the responsibility of FBS teams. 

And NO true competitor enjoys getting his azz flattened in a lopside game--regardless of the venue.

Those are just excuses by the big boys to continue purchasing Ws. Once again, if they keep up the cowardly scheduling, they will end any hope they may have had to play for a championship--and that's the way it should be.

ToccoaDawg
ToccoaDawg

@LEE3333   AMEN  I wanted to say a few things to Jeff, know nothing, Schultz but I wouldn't have been so PC about it. Thanks for helping me out.

thebucket
thebucket

@LEE3333 Concerning moving Auburn to the East and Mizzou to the West you and I are in total agreement! However, that would affect the UT/Bama series because there is no way they are discontinuing the Iron Bowl!

WDE
WDE

@jerunamo this is easy ...don't log on to the site...talk about lazy!

RedandBlackDAWG
RedandBlackDAWG

@Delusionaldog @RedandBlackDAWG You certainly are a sad example of a sports fan, no matter what team you vote for. Why don't you try saying something constructive or God Forbid, useful for once in your life.

If you weren't left on the orphanage door, I can't imagine that your parent(s) are too proud of you.

RedandBlackDAWG
RedandBlackDAWG

@gtcaryd @HotDawg One year is the best you can come up with. How about the 13 years of the BCS altogether. What is the over all record of the ACC against the SEC in that 13 year period?  How about overall prior to that?  I think your example of competitiveness fails the test then.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@POAD2014  over inflating rankings? how about Ohio St Michigan  Notre Dame Clemson

dmccloud
dmccloud

@POAD2014 @dmccloud   Here's the problem with your statement:  the rankings I'm using were done after the bowl games, so the preseason rankings are irrelevant.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@PaulinNH   Nebraska and Penn St had great histories havent done much since joining the mighty Big 10

I guess thats what happens when you play poor competition 

SECFactFinder
SECFactFinder

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

From some good sources, it sounds like they all made it, but a couple still on the bubble.


Will know true results in two weeks.


Have a Great Summer My friend!

LEE3333
LEE3333

@thebucket @LEE3333That is true.  However, Auburn's President has stated that Auburn would endorse the move to the East and I would think that the conference could make a scheduling exception allowing the Iron Bowl to be played annually.  It certainly couldn't be seen as a scheduling advantage by any measure.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@gtcaryd  so was Tech a few years ago when they were ranked in the top 10 just before they played UGA.  We all know how that worked out

FlatTire
FlatTire

@POAD2014   I agree with that but you know as well as I do for years every year Notre Dame Michigan and Ohio St were almost always ranked in the top 5 and top 10

POAD2014
POAD2014

@FlatTire a lot or over ranked. Rankings are a joke to start the season period.

POAD2014
POAD2014

@dmccloud where is the link? I would like to see the breakdown. That sounds better if were at season end.


gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@FlatTire Heck that's the conference where your pups should be playing. Why the heck don't we just pick all 4 teams for the playoff from the SEC. All hail the mighty SEC.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@PaulinNH  yea Nebraska won some national titles in another conference

Nebraska is 1-3 vs the SEC since joining the Big 10

Penn St went undefeated in 94 just after joining the Big 10 and havent done much since

as for playing in a BCS bowl it really isnt that hard to accomplish in the Big 10 you only need to beat 1 decent teams

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@FlatTire

So if, as you say, Nebraska and PSU have done nothing since they went in the B1G, what does their record against SEC teams say about the SEC?

Decades before???  I think you'll find that PSU has played in a BCS Bowl more recently than UGA.

You do realize that Nebraska has won 2 MNC's since UGA last won one and PSU has won 1 as well - and every PSU fan thinks they should have won in 1994 instead of Nebraska.  

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@FlatTire

I have no idea what UGA's record is against the B1G.  I do know what UGA's record is against PSU

FlatTire
FlatTire

@PaulinNH  have either teams duplicated what they did decades before?

yea big win for Nebraska beating a team that had to replace its starting QB a game before its two starting RB's injured

Ever check UGA's record against the mighty Big 10?

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@FlatTire
 

Nebraska has only been in the B1G for 3 seasons. They were so useless last year that they beat an SEC team in the Gator Bowl

PSU has been so bad since they went in the B1G that they have only managed to go 5-3 vs SEC teams in bowl games.