Why complaining about your team's 2020 SEC schedule is stupid
I mean, I get it. At a time when we just want to feel like the world is getting back to normal, complaining about your team’s schedule feels like a healthy way to do that. In a year in which the SEC took roughly a week to add 2 opponents for each team to comply with a 10-game conference-only schedule, naturally, there were going to be some unhappy campers. We hear you, Arkansas and Mizzou fans.
But complaining about your team’s 2020 schedule is stupid.
Why? Well, instead of getting caught up in the added games, let’s take a step back and realize what dynamics are in place for a 2020 college football season.
In case you haven’t noticed, your SEC team is facing 10 of the possible 13 teams in the league. That means of the possible SEC opponents, your team will play against 77% of them. Even if your team somehow missed the likes of Alabama, LSU and Georgia, AKA the past 3 teams to win SEC titles, guess what? Odds are that your team probably has to face one of those squads in the SEC Championship anyway.
Reality is that whoever wins the SEC this year is going to have to get through a gauntlet unlike any before. Four crossover matchups suggests that divisions have never been less relevant. And if we’re being honest, there are 4 teams from each division that are worthy of starting the year in the Top 25. Nobody is winning the SEC by getting a lucky schedule draw.
The only luck that could fuel an SEC winner in 2020 is if that team stays healthy and catches contenders on days when they have major quarantine-related absences in the starting lineup. And even that’s totally unpredictable and not something that one can complain about before the season starts.
If you want to complain about why your SEC team has it so much more difficult than your buddy who roots for a Pac-12 team, sure. Fire away. I guess if this new conference-only schedule suddenly makes you feel that your buddy’s Pac-12 team has a clearer path to 6-7 wins than your SEC team, complain.
But the intra-conference complaining about a schedule that’s now difficult for everyone seems silly.
We have no idea what these rosters are going to look like when these games are played. With news of positive tests and opt-outs coming in daily, nothing is set and stone. We’ve already seen preseason All-Americans opt out. Based on the SEC’s COVID-19 protocols announced Friday that detailed quarantines of 14 days for those in contact with those who test positive, we could see several key players and coaches sidelined, which would drastically change the nature of a matchup.
It seems best to take everything day by day, and week by week. If there’s anything we’ve learned about trying to play sports during a pandemic, it’s that there are a lot of moving parts.
That’s another thing to remember — can’t we all just appreciate football if it’s happening on our TVs this fall?
Maybe that’s a bit utopic to expect everyone to take their football and put a smile on. But if you’re of the mindset that decision-makers should be moving mountains to have a fall season, I’d argue that’s already happened. It’s still happening. This probably isn’t the time to complain that your rival only has 4 Top-25 matchups while your team has 5. I’m sorry, man. That’s a bummer. There are some bigger things going on here.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were some unhappy athletic directors, and that’s why this took so long to go public. If you were an athletic director and you received word that your team was about to add games against Alabama and LSU, based on no precedent for this type of thing whatsoever, why wouldn’t you resist? What do you have to lose?
At the same time, there’s only so much that can be done to keep everyone happy. There’s a reason this isn’t the protocol for settling on schedules. And if we’re being honest, this schedule has a better chance of being fair for the entire league than any during this 11-year stretch when the East won just 1 conference title … and then proceeded to lose to an SEC West team in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The only thing that should have warranted legitimate complaints is if there was a proven James Carville-level “the SEC protects Alabama” conspiracy (did you know that the SEC offices are in Birmingham?!?). Sure. If we find out that the league blatantly tried to benefit Alabama and sabotage all the rest of the SEC contenders, complain away. Or if you just want to tell yourself that so you sleep better tonight, well, I guess do what you’ve gotta do.
But for the rest of us who live in the real world, we know that pivoting like this in August is a logistical nightmare. This is damage control. This is dealing with a flooding basement and understanding that a few valuable possessions are bound to be damaged.
No matter how much your team’s added opponents infuriated you, remember that the chances of any SEC team benefiting from a lucky schedule went down. There’s a chance that the SEC winner will have to face 85% of the teams in the league this year in order to win a conference title.
As for the middle-of-pack programs, your expectations should have already lowered the second that a 10-game conference-only schedule was announced. And for the cellar dwellers, I’m sorry that 2020 is going to be weekly frustration. No scheduling tweak was going to change that, but at least you’ll get live football this fall. I hope.
I understand that fans are gonna fan, especially in the SEC. Just don’t waste your time complaining about an unfair 2020 schedule.
Take a deep breath into your COVID mask and look at the bigger picture.