Should SEC count crossover games in division races?
I’m already on record as saying every Power 5 conference plays too many conference games.
I much prefer a scheduling model of seven conference games, one game vs. each of the other four Power 5 leagues and a cupcake for dessert.
The SEC is locked into an 8-game conference scheduling format that includes two East vs. West crossover games. Obviously no two crossover schedules are alike.
The issue we’ve been discussing is, given the inherent imbalance, should crossover games help determine who wins each division?
Connor O’Gara, senior national columnist: Absolutely. If crossover games didn’t count in divisional records, they may as well split up the SEC into two separate conferences. Sure, not everyone gets an equal draw, but that’s part of college football.
Treating those as essentially non-conference games would hurt some of the SEC’s best rivalries. Everything should be at stake during an SEC matchup. Plain and simple.
Michael Bratton, news editor: It’s hard for me to argue otherwise. I understand the inequality the current scheduling format provides for some teams, but that should be used as motivation to improve — not used as an excuse for lack of success.
I also tend to think those inequalities are cyclical. While Alabama may have Tennessee’s number now, it wasn’t that long ago the shoe was on the other foot in that series.
Of more pressing concern in my opinion is the current divisional format and the scheduling process. It badly needs to be reworked, which would make crossover games nonexistent.
A UGA beat writer recently pointed out that Georgia still will not have traveled to College Station by the summer of 2024. Considering the Aggies are entering Year 5 in the SEC, that’s a disgrace. The two programs may as well not be in the same league they play so rarely.
John Crist, senior writer: College football is sometimes celebrated for its imperfections, and this is one of them.
Take Tennessee for example. This season, not only do the Volunteers have their annual cross-division matchup with king-of-the-West Alabama, but LSU makes a visit to Neyland Stadium.
Compare that to Kentucky, which travels to Mississippi State before hosting Ole Miss a few weeks later. Needless to say, that’s a much easier road for the Wildcats to navigate outside the scope of their six divisional tilts. It’s one of the reasons I’m higher on UK in 2017 than UT.
The Crimson Tide got to host the ’Cats last year and travel to Vanderbilt this time around, which is about as easy as it gets crossing over with the East. They’ve had the Vols’ number lately, too.
But SEC record is SEC record, no matter what those eight games tend to be, so deal with it.
Jon Cooper, director of operations: Absolutely. College football is cyclical, and just because teams feel they have received the short end of the stick in their current slate, it comes back around.
Now, there may be a bigger question here about essentially eliminating the divisions altogether, but in this specific scenario, East vs. West games have to matter.
Chris Wright, executive editor: Luck is for the lottery. Nobody likes it when random events impact results, especially when there is a solution to prevent it.
There’s no way to balance the crossover schedules, so there’s no logical reason for including those games in the divisional race. The powers might be cyclical (Alabama’s on some cycle, huh?), but the random nature of this process isn’t.
The only thing you can control is having every team in the division play every other team. Those games should determine the division champion.
It’s not a crazy idea. LSU AD Joe Alleva suggested not counting crossover games last year when it looked like LSU and Florida might not play.
We all love traditions and rivalries. But I’ll never understand why Tennessee wants to play Alabama every year, knowing it impacts the Vols’ chances of getting to Atlanta (the past decade negatively).
So let’s have the best of both worlds. Let’s protect the rivalries (let’s face it, we’re only talking about 3 of them) and not have those games impact either team’s chance of winning the division.
The game absolutely would still matter because it still would impact their bigger goals and bowl destination.
You know, just like it did for decades before the SEC adopted divisions.