The SEC spring meetings will take place this week in Destin, Florida, and one of the immediate items on the agenda to get resolved is the finalization of the SEC’s future scheduling model.
SEC official and scheduling guru Larry Templeton told the Birmingham news that he expects the SEC to end up with a 6-1-1 scheduling model moving forward – that includes six divisional games, one permanent cross-divisional rivalry and one rotating cross-divisional game.
Templeton has been tasked with making Missouri and Texas A&M fit in the new scheduling scheme.
“I’ve been around this (SEC) group enough to know that when they get together for four days there’s a lot of things that change from Tuesday to Friday,” Templeton said, chuckling. “But I wouldn’t look for a lot of change in the permanents if truly the 6-1-1 is what we end up with.”
The main vacancy with the 6-1-1 schedule is the absence of a nine-game schedule in the SEC, which has been brought under some criticism by members of other conferences that do or will soon embrace a nine-game conference schedule. SEC coaches and administrators want nothing to do with a nine-game schedule. No one can blame them.
There had been talk that current cross-divisional rivalries, such as Auburn-Georgia, could be eliminated in the future. And Georgia’s AD sounded that alarm back in February.
But Templeton expects those current rivalries to stay in tact with his ‘6-1-1’ assumption that will be decided next week through the foreseeable future.
Recently, CBS said they are not going to pay the fee asked by the SEC after the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M because they feel they don’t add significant value to the conference when compared to the amount of money discussed.
In order for Templeton to finalize the next schedule format, he’ll need to know how long to make it according to renegotiated TV deals.
“I think what TV is interested in is how many quality games we’re going to have every Saturday,” Templeton said. “They’re more interested in what we’re doing the second week of the season and what are we doing the week before Thanksgiving with everybody either on an open date or nonconference games before their archrival games.”
Besides the argument that the Aggies and Tigers don’t bring significantly more value to the conference, another reason CBS is balking at the increased amount the SEC is asking for is that most games in the latter portion of the season do not fair well on TV ratings. For example, the second-to-last week game in 2011 – Arkansas-Mississippi State – drew the second lowest rating of the season. This year’s second-to-last week choices are not really much better.
This will all hopefully be resolved soon.