Les Miles: A coach on a mission for schedule change

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The SEC’s spring meetings start today, and the heart of all the discussion revolves around the scheduling conundrum for the immediate and long-term future of the conference.

The current eight-game conference schedule is expected to last through 2014 or 2015, with most expecting the conference to move to a future nine-game schedule. The current 6-1-1 model features six division games, one permanent cross-divisional opponent and one rotating cross-divisional opponent.

And the one coach who has been the most outspoken out of the 14 about the current model, particularly permanent cross-divisional rivalries, is LSU’s Les Miles.

Miles is tired of playing Florida every year, while he watches Alabama play Tennessee every year. And to be fair, he has a point. Alabama has won the last six against Tennessee and are currently 7-3 in the last 10 years, while LSU is tied 5-5 with Florida in their last 10. The Gators are 98-33 over the last decade, while Tennessee is 72-54. Tennessee isn’t the Tennessee of old, and Florida is vying for a national title picture nearly every single year.

Miles made his intentions known during the SEC’s post-spring teleconference, where he suggested abolishing permanent cross-divisional rivalries and selecting two cross-divisional opponents via computer.

“It’s interesting to see how you would compare our schedule with others,” Miles said on the SEC coaches’ post-spring teleconference. “I wonder if there should be no permanent partners. I wonder if we couldn’t choose cross-division opponents through a random computer draw.”

And just last week, he was on with Tim Brando discussing how certain teams have ‘unintended and unearned advantages’ with the current model, via AL.

“I think there is some unintended, unearned advantages by scheduling. I mean unintended, the conference put it in there and they tried to deal with the traditions of the conference and tried to make things work. I think the unintended has to do with that. No question there are some advantages by scheduling. You can deny historically, traditionally that those two teams are pretty strong. And those two teams can make a difference in what is the Western Division championship. And they can make a difference year after year if the scheduling is not some way made equal.”

The main reason for the SEC even installing the current 6-1-1 schedule format is to protect the Alabama-Tennessee and Georgia-Auburn rivalries, and there will be much discussion about both preserving and eliminating those this week.

Eliminating permanent cross-divisional rivalries are unrealistic, especially when next year’s SEC Network will be unveiled. Programming will be paramount.

Miles will be a man on a mission this week, and we’ll see what transpires – if anything – because of it.

Photo Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • Why not just swap Tennessee and Auburn in the divisional line-up. Send Auburn to the East and Tennessee to the West. That would preserve the only two rivalries with any tradition at all (Georgia/Auburn and Alabama/Tennessee; it would have no impact on the competitive make-up of the divisions (based on present or traditional competitiveness); and it would maintain the geographical integrity of the divisions for the most part.

    Tradition is great, but let’s be honest, there’s no tradition associated with the SEC divisions, and Missouri’s addition to the East has already watered down their geographical integrity.

    As an LSU fan, I’m happy with our permanent cross-divisional opponent because Florida is a big time opponent and the game is almost always an interesting match-up, but I don’t have any paticular attachment to it as a tradition (Gainesville is a 9 hour drive from Baton Rouge). What I’m not happy with is the one rotating cross-divisional opponent. It’s like we’re not really connected to the SEC East anymore, except through the championship game.

    • I think that’s a good idea, but then you’ll have AL and AU fans screaming about the Iron Bowl. I wish Les would have worded things differently. I think he’s more pissed about alabama getting an easy road to the SECCG every year while we consistently have one of the toughest schedules. Screw permanent rivalries, make new ones with the 6-2 format.

      • The only reason LSU plays Florida every year was because they were the last to join the SEC before A&M and Mizzou. People complained that Florida not having a standard west opponent was unfair because they were always missing some of the top west schools. (It’s not Florida’s fault, it’s just the way things worked out).

        As for swapping UT and Auburn, you would then also having UGA fans screaming about their border war with Tennessee. Take out the down year Auburn had last year, would you really want the potential of Auburn playing Bama 2 weeks in a row at the end of the season. If you think ESPN talks about the SEC a lot before, as people who aren’t Auburn or Bama fans, do you really want to hear 2 straight weeks of that? (Remember how mad people got when they thought it was going to be a Ohio State vs. Michigan rematch for a national title?) You could do a realignment of the conference on a North/South basis, but then think of this. SEC South would potentially be Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Ole Miss/Bama, Miss State, LSU, and Texas A&M. This would leave in the North Arkansas, Mizzou, Vandy, UT, Kentucky, South Carolina, Bama/Ole Miss. If you thought the west was tough before, imagine how hard the south division would be.

        No school in the SEC has an “easy” road to a championship game. Yes LSU I would say has a harder path with Florida on their schedule every year but in the National Title picture Florida has to play FSU every year as an out of conference game and they don’t complain about it.

        You have to have permanent rivalries as it’s what makes the game exciting.

        • I see a lot of people bringing up the UF/FSU game, but that game doesn’t count toward the SEC standings, so UF could lose that game and it have not bearing on an SEC Championship getting them to the the NCG. I think its going to end up being a 6-3 format.

          What do you think of my dream solution:
          NCAA rules state that you have to have divisions to have a Conference Championship game. I wonder if you could have 3 five team divisions (of course we’d have to add another team). That way you could play the four games in your division and rotate two teams from the other two divisions for 8 SEC games. Also, you’d preserve the “traditional rivalries” and allow everyone to play each other at least once every 4 years.

          Central Div:
          Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri

          Eastern Div:
          Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, NEW TEAM

          Western Div:
          LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Miss. State

  • And then LM voted no to a 9 game schedule. Quit whining!