Mike Slive didn’t waste much time getting the “breaking news” out of the way: the SEC will, as expected, continue with an eight-game conference schedule (a 6-1-1 model) in 2014 and likely 2015 as well.
But what the topic of scheduling lacked in drama or anticipation, it more than made up for in discussion. Most of the SEC’s coaches understandably favor an eight-game model — though there is some disagreement over whether a permanent crossover rival should be part of it — because the fourth out-of-conference game is almost always a money game against the North Texas (#GoMeanGreen) or UT-Chattanoogas of the college football world. It’s basically a guaranteed win at home. Basically.
Alabama coach Nick Saban is looking beyond the easy wins, though.
“If you look at it through a straw and how it affects you and you’re self-absorbed about it, nobody’s going to be for it,” Saban said about the possibility of a nine-game SEC schedule (via Andy Staples of SI). “I shouldn’t be for it. We’ve got a better chance to be more successful if we don’t do it. But I think it’s best for the game and for the league. That’s what I think. So I’m trying to look at it from 1,000 feet.”
The idea of a nine-game SEC slate has been bounced around some, but traction’s been hard to come by. That could, and probably will, change some time after the SEC’s network gets up and running in 2014 — perhaps in 2016. Staples does a good job explaining the difference between quantity and quality of inventory that would land on the SEC network, but the belief is that a nine-game schedule would allow for a better selection of games than your standard cupcakes.
And then there’s the College Football Playoff angle, of which scheduling is supposed to be a factor worthy of heavy consideration. As long as the CFP’s selection committee weighs scheduling appropriately, adding another conference game would actually seem beneficial for the SEC. Conversely, keeping cupcakes in that fourth nonconference slot would, in theory, hurt an SEC team.
Scheduling is already difficult enough as it is, and trying to maintain tradition and fairness only adds to the headaches it can cause. Eventually, I see the SEC going to a nine-game slate. For the immediate future though, it’s a TBD topic.