Posted: May 28, 2013
Today begins the SEC meetings in Destin, Fl. What happens in SEC country reverberates throughout college football, so all eyes are watching. Yes, it is a conference meeting so there will be a lot on the agenda that does not directly relate to college football, but football drives the bus within the SEC and every conference, so it will be a large part of the agenda.
The politicking has already begun with Nick Saban, Les Miles, and others getting in their shots about the football schedule. I have attached my views on this in a previous post, Blow Up College Football Scheduling?. But what the SEC does will have ramifications elsewhere. And it is likely they will not reach any decision this week.
All sides are significantly correct. Les Miles is 100% correct that Florida and LSU playing every year puts them at a disadvantage to say Alabama who plays Tennessee every year, now that Tennessee is not what they once were. Yes it is cyclical, but should a conference champion be determined by cyclical variances? I don’t like that.
Nick Saban is correct that as the league expands you need to expand the schedule and go to nine games. But that impacts non conference rivalry games like Florida – Florida State and South Carolina – Clemson. What do you do about that? How do you address fewer non conference games which are typically at home in order to support athletic budgets that not only support football, but the entire athletic program?
More conference games are better for tv and for exciting fan bases, but it also makes it a tougher road to the national championship game and more importantly, it makes it more difficult for middling teams to become bowl eligible. What do you do about that?
When the SEC went to divisional play and a conference championship game in 1992, the college football world (myself included) said they would not win a national title anymore because that is one extra really tough game the SEC would play, that no other conference would play. What happened? Alabama won the national championship. And currently, even with an extra incredibly difficult game, a tougher game than most conference champions play, the SEC has won how many national titles in a row? Sometimes, you cannot predict what will happen.
Mike Slive has shown incredible foresight and leadership over the past few decades, and I expect nothing less in the years to come. His contract is up soon, but I expect he will at least stay to see the SEC Network come into complete fruition.
But all eyes in college football are on Destin, to see how Commissioner Slive and the SEC handles the scheduling dilemma, because something will have to give and many will not be happy. Commissioner Slive has kept the conference united and I think that his greatest accomplishment has been to convince schools and Presidents to do what is best for the conference and not just the individual school. This will need to continue, because whatever scheduling decision is made, there will be many that will not be happy.
I wish Commissioner Slive luck and remember, we are all watching, except Coach Spurrier who can be found on the 10th tee.