Les Miles is leading the charge to eliminate the permanent cross-division opponents in SEC conference play. LSU plays Florida every year, and according to Miles, that just isn’t fair compared to other teams – most notably Alabama and their annual match up against Tennessee.
The problem with this crusade isn’t that it’s wrong to eliminate the permanent cross-divisional opponents. The problem is that Les Miles is using the argument of fairness.
Fairness is the most overused term in American culture today. The masses eat up the idea of fairness and the promotion of a level playing field. We tell our kids that they can grow up to be the President of the United States. We love to buy into the idea that as long as we work hard, we will be extremely successful while conveniently ignoring people we know who work very hard and somehow aren’t very successful.
The bigger lie is that we even like the idea of fairness. We don’t. It’s just not politically correct to admit it. We secretly love when a team like the New York Yankees or the Miami Heat assembles more stars than other teams. Even if we don’t like these teams, we love to hate them. And while we might be quick to point to the lack of a salary cap in a sport such as MLB, no sport is less about fairness than college football.
The beauty of college football is that it is assymetrical. Teams play in different conferences and play completely different sets of teams. The idea of the bottom tier of FBS teams lining up against the top tier is almost laughable. This leads to nonstop debate and weekly polls that we all can’t wait to see. The uneven nature of college football is what makes it unique.
It may be time to eliminate the permanent cross-divisional opponents, but the argument shouldn’t be to legislate fairness. Schools can change up their non-conference schedule if they have a heavy conference schedule each year. The fact that LSU plays Florida every year could actually help them in the upcoming college football playoff which will emphasize strength of schedule.
It’s this strength of schedule that gives Les Miles in most cases the ability to lose a game and still get into the big dance. Ohio State doesn’t have that option. Because of the awful state of the Big Ten, Ohio State has no breathing room. They lose once and they’re not in the big dance.
My prediction is that the permanent cross-divisional opponents will go away. It will be in conjunction with a move to a nine-game conference schedule. The SEC will move to nine games, but a concession to the coaches that have a concern about it will likely be to remove the permanent cross-divisional foes. For example, why would Will Muschamp want to add a 9th SEC game when he has permanent games against LSU and Florida State every year? By eliminating the LSU game as an annual matchup, it can alleviate the concerns.
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