With the SEC’s announcement that the conference will stick with the 6-1-1 model in 2016 and beyond, along with mandating one opponent from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12, let’s take a look at some winners and losers of the future scheduling format:
Tradition: The SEC’s two main historical rivalries of Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia remained intact. Keeping these two rivalries unblemished on the 2016 future schedule and beyond means tradition wins, and that’s a big part of what the SEC is built on from a program and fan perspective. Could tradition still have won had the conference gone to nine games? Absolutely, but there was also a scare that even if the SEC stayed at eight conference games, the permanent cross-divisional rivalries would be no more. That obviously didn’t happen.
‘Other’ power conferences: The SEC bias has been loud and clear the last several years, with everyone taking aim about the strength of the conference at any chance they can. With the coming playoff, nobody is sure how the conference’s strength of schedule will be affected by the SEC’s future scheduling format. Unless something crazy happens around college football, the SEC should get one team in the playoff annually. With the SEC playing one less conference game than the other four Big 5 conferences (other four power conferences are either at nine conference games or will be there by 2016), could it come back to hurt the league overall and really limit the number of teams the SEC gets in the playoff? The selection committee could hold it against the league for playing one less conference game than the rest. If (and maybe when) the SEC gets knocked because of this, you can bet it will be revisited.
Fans: Not every fan will consider themselves losers, but the majority will be. Had the league gone to nine games, SEC players in a span of four years would have played every SEC opponent during their careers, which was the model minority voice Nick Saban supported. Plus, fans want to see more legitimate games that would give them an excuse to pay the high costs it takes to go to games, instead of playing more cupcakes. Yes, I hear you fan who is okay with keeping the same format, but the majority of fans won’t like it. Fans are looking for entertainment, and playing another conference game would have added to it.
LSU/Florida: Both LSU and Florida are the biggest team losers. The Tigers’ have made it known they’re tired of the ‘competitive disadvantage’ the 6-1-1 scheduling model makes, and they’re tired of playing powerhouse Florida every year, while Alabama continues to dominate the Tennessee series. So, LSU will continue playing Florida every year. Although Florida has welcomed playing LSU every year, the Gators could play both Alabama and LSU in the same year much like 2014, and that’s a killer and brutal schedule. This isn’t a traditional rivalry; therefore, both teams suffer the worst.
The threesome: The SEC mandated that every program play one opponent from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 starting in 2016. Several teams are set already like Florida, South Carolina and Georgia against ACC teams, and power teams like Alabama, Auburn and LSU will have no problem finding another opponent. But what happens to the threesome of Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt? They’re going to have trouble finding an opponent from a power conference that will actually play against them. The three will likely make calls to Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas and Kansas State, among others, but they’re somewhat limited in the teams they can call and the teams that will actually sign on for the game. These three teams will be interesting to watch for future scheduling.
Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports