Ever since Kyle Veazey reported that Larry Templeton was in charge of some secret commission to modify the SEC schedule, a little chill ran down my spine. But it also inspired me. Through the years, I have had a few large-scale and small-scale problems with conference scheduling. So, I asked some SEC bloggers what changes they would like to see. Here are a few things I think the conference needs to address. Even better, after the jump is sort of a skeleton conference schedule that I'm sure no one will like.
GEORGIA GRIPE: The late September road trip to Lexington was nice. This didn't come from bloggers. It came from old men like my uncle, who went to UGA. Honestly, I see their point. We've played in Lexington in the early fall, and it is quite stunning. The weather is nice. The grass is green. It's picturesque. We can accommodate this.
MY GRIPE: I want to play LSU on a Saturday close to Halloween. I don't know where this irrational fear of Halloween came from, but Halloween is LSU time.
ANOTHER OF MY GRIPES: I liked having two permanent Eastern division opponents, as we did from 1992 to 2002. Specific reasons? None. But, I also like playing playing Tennessee more than twice a decade. Solution? A nine-game conference schedule. Hear me out. The Pac-10 is already there (and, reportedly, staying there). The Big 10-welve might go to a nine-game conference schedule. If the Big X
II stays at ten teams, it would not be surprising if they moved to a nine-team round robin form, as well. Realistically, this means that every SEC team will have to sacrifice one FCS or Sun Belt team per year (and, consequently, .5 home games a year). But that means that we will be keeping our money in our conference. And wouldn't you rather see the Rebs play Georgia every other year than Jacksonville State for two years?
With all that in mind, here's a skeleton of a schedule. Not every conference game is scheduled, just the more interesting games/road trips/rivalries. And every week there is at least one usually good game with a "Big 6" team. Because it takes time to work through existing non-conference commitments, this schedule begins in 2015. Road games are highlighted. "ROT" means the rotating inter-divisional match-ups. In 2015, they'll be exactly the same as they are this year. So, for our home game on September 26, 2015, type in "KENTUCKY" and for the road game, type in "TENNESSEE." Below that table are the permanent inter-divisional rivals. Auburn and Florida get the short shrift, but that's because they have a long-standing rivalry that I'd like to see renewed.
The skeleton schedule (or a quick Google search) should make clear who the pre-2002 permanent inter-divisional rivals were, but here's a table:
One of the other advantages I find for the schedule above is that the rotating inter-division games are all played on the same weekend, which adds a level of drama to the SEC schedule. Perhaps moreso when we weren't all consumed with defending the SEC as the strongest conference in the wOrLd(!), there was some pretty serious debate about which division was stronger. I think it might be fun to renew that debate every fourth and seventh week of the season.
For the SEC and its television partners, this schedule provides at least one top game a weekend. Especially, it puts two great SEC match-ups in the first week (a la Miami-FSU).
Though imperfect, I think this schedule represents a few slight improvements for the SEC at large; but is mostly my personal Rebel wish list.