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SEC sticks with eight games but focuses on strength of schedule

When it comes to keeping balance in a conference, giving every team an equal number of home and away games in conference play is the way to go. That is what the SEC will continue to do moving forward, opting to stick with eight-game schedules over nine-game schedules in conference play.

There is a little catch though, but it is a good one. The SEC will now require all members of the SEC to schedule at least one opponent from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 on an annual basis. For a number of teams this will be no problem due to existing non-conference rivalries. For others, the emphasis on scheduling opponents from power conferences will have to be made.

Florida (Florida State), Georgia (Georgia Tech), Kentucky (Louisville), and South Carolina (Clemson) already have existing annual rivalry games with opponents from another conference. In this case, each opponent comes from the ACC. What other SEC schools do to find scheduling partners on an annual basis should be intriguing. Will new annual rivalries develop or will schools mix up the future opponents to keep things fresh. Is this what will be needed to get Texas A&M and Texas back together? Well, let’s slow down just one second.

“This has been a thoughtful and deliberative process that has resulted in maintaining the current format and adds a provision that will bolster our collective annual non-conference schedule,” said Commissioner Mike Slive. “The concept of strength-of-schedule is based on an entire 12-game schedule, a combination of both conference games together with non-conference games. Given the strength of our conference schedule supplemented by at least one major non-conference game, our teams will boast of a strong resume’ of opponents each and every year.”

The SEC also paired up the permanent SEC cross-division match-ups. They are:

  • Alabama (west) vs. Tennessee (east)
  • Arkansas (west) vs. Missouri (east)
  • Auburn (west) vs. Georgia (east)
  • LSU (west) vs. Florida (east)
  • Ole Miss (west) vs. Vanderbilt (east)
  • Mississippi State (west) vs. Kentucky (east)
  • Texas A&M (west) vs. South Carolina (east)

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29 Responses to “SEC sticks with eight games but focuses on strength of schedule”
  1. thekatman says: Apr 27, 2014 9:28 PM

    Until there is parity in college football and all major conference teams play the same number of conference games and no patsy teams, the college football playoff system will continue to be a sham.

  2. canetic says: Apr 27, 2014 9:29 PM

    Alabama of course gets a patsy for their cross-division “rival.”

  3. cometkazie says: Apr 27, 2014 9:39 PM

    LSU has gone thru periods when they played aTm annually, but the Aggies done went and joined our conference and are in the same division.

  4. v2rotate says: Apr 27, 2014 9:50 PM

    A shame from the self proclaimed “best conference”. Each will still play 2 FCS teams. Anyone playing FCS teams should be deemed inelibible for playoff consideration.

  5. goodfieldnohit says: Apr 27, 2014 10:05 PM

    I’d love to see A&M play a Pac or B1G team.

  6. Professor Fate says: Apr 27, 2014 10:07 PM

    Apparently the obvious solution didn’t come up: Instant strength-of-schedule improvement can be had by not scheduling FCS schools.

  7. dmvtransplant says: Apr 27, 2014 10:13 PM

    You can knock the B1G for on field play or the bowl record, but at least they got rid of FCS teams on the schedule.

  8. justanobserver says: Apr 27, 2014 10:27 PM

    Good luck getting Texas – Texas A&M together — unless the Horns are practically guaranteed a win. Face it, the Horns want nothing to do with the Aggies on an otherwise level playing field.

    In fact, if the Horns were interested in such a game, why couldn’t the powers that be get the two teams together during last year’s bowl season when both had comparable season records. It would have been a dream match-up for fans of college football, with A&M — most likely — almost willing to give up its game payout for such a shot.

    But the Horns — trust me — not so much!

  9. thefiesty1 says: Apr 27, 2014 11:14 PM

    The B1G may have gotten rid of FCS games but still fill their schedules with the MAC. Basically the same.

  10. lolnfl says: Apr 27, 2014 11:22 PM

    how could we ever survive without the miss state-uk rivalry

  11. overratedgators says: Apr 28, 2014 7:00 AM

    And they can’t even be bothered to force Florida to at least leave the state for an OOC conference game. “Best conference”, indeed.

  12. floridacock says: Apr 28, 2014 7:40 AM

    @dmvtransplant
    So the SEC having the most teams, 4, in the top 10 of 2014 SOS, than any other conference and 8 in the top 25 means they have cupcake schedules??? No PAC 12 and 1 Big 10 teams in the top 10???? Dropping FCS schools, but having all cupcakes in your league just is not going to help. The South RULES football!!!!

  13. rolltide510 says: Apr 28, 2014 9:26 AM

    “canetic says:
    Apr 27, 2014 9:29 PM
    Alabama of course gets a patsy for their cross-division “rival.””

    Sincerely,

    FSU’s cross-division patsy “rival”.

  14. chunkala says: Apr 28, 2014 9:38 AM

    Tennesse used to be a major power, their dropoff certainly is not Bama’s fault.
    I don’t know why they need the extra in conference rivalry games though other than BAMA-TENN and GEO-AUB? Just rotate the other 10 teams together since they don’t have any particular positive feelings to their designated rival.
    And A&M-MIZZ would be the better game since they were both previously in the Big 12.

  15. chunkala says: Apr 28, 2014 9:41 AM

    SEC is the best conference but scheduling FCS programs is ridiculous. Just schedule CUSA, SunBelt, etc. instead. Also, Florida has not left the state for OOC game since their drubbing at Syracuse in 1991, thats almost 25 years. Cmon, man!

    I’ve made mock schedules for the 65 power teams where they can play 8-9 conf games, play rivals, and all other games would be rotated among the other power conferences. Not a very difficult thing to achieve, I guess the schedulemakers are just lazy.

  16. overratedgators says: Apr 28, 2014 10:56 AM

    “BUT THE SEC CONFERENCE SCHEDULE IS SUCH A GAUNTLET! IT’S LIKE PLAYING A TITLE GAME EVERY WEEK!”

    Right. Which is why in Sagarin’s final strength of schedule ratings, only Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee cracked the very bottom of the top 10.

    The first seven slots?: all PAC-12.

    SEC homers like to act as if their teams play Alabama every week, when in reality, most of their schedules are padded with the likes of Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Mississippi State.

  17. planecrashguy says: Apr 28, 2014 4:46 PM

    Look for the commissioners of those four leagues to direct their teams to accept nothing less than home-and-home series with any SEC that comes calling to fill their newly required game.

  18. hrudey says: Apr 28, 2014 5:17 PM

    Sagarin’s strength of schedule ratings are always screwy because it overvalues the teams on the schedule nobody is going to lose to (Florida obviously excepted this year). For all the huff about DAT PAC-12 schedule, Tennessee is the only team that’s played FIVE, count them, FIVE games against teams in Sagarin’s top ten. Nobody else has more than three. Which means, of course, UCLA, with only two games against top 10 opponents and only six against top 30 had a tougher schedule.

    Luckily, Colley’s rankings are more reflective of reality in the strength of schedule department. He doesn’t have it broken out by conference, but the SEC has 6 of the top 10 toughest schedules and the PAC-12 had 4 (including the top two).

    Anderson and Hester had the SEC ranked as having the strongest non-conference strength of schedule by a few points over the PAC-12 and Big 12, and the SEC and PAC-12 each had 5 of the 10 toughest schedules.

    Billingsly has the PAC-12 up 5-4 over the SEC for toughest schedules, and somehow had Oklahoma as having the fourth toughest schedule. I’m not sure how anyone gets that, but it’s not egregious.

    Massey has the SEC with 8 of the top 10 toughest schedules. That’s more than I’d personally find reasonable – I find fault with any formula that didn’t have Stanford in the top 10 in that regard, and I’d consider that as flawed as Sagarin’s.

    Dr. Wolfe doesn’t appear to list strength of schedule, so we’ll have to leave that out.

    In any event, we’ve got Sagarin and Massey who both end up looking like cheerleaders, so theirs are pretty well dropped. The other three that have strength of schedule are pretty well split – but all seem to indicate that the SEC and PAC-12 both have essentially half of the top 10 toughest schedules. A far, far cry from what you’re intimating, but of course ‘overratedgators’ is not a username that screams out ‘seeker of truth’ but ‘pusher of agenda.’

  19. planecrashguy says: Apr 28, 2014 7:02 PM

    How can any power rating results be considered “cheerleading” as long as a consistent algorithm is applied consistently across the board? Clearly different algorithms factor/weigh input data differently, that’s why we see disagreements between power ratings. As long as any one rating process is applied the same way every time, however, how can its results be anything but unbiased?

  20. hrudey says: Apr 28, 2014 8:26 PM

    That’s why I specifically said “looking like” and not that they were cheerleading. I’m not familiar enough with Massey’s history to know if his ratings tend to have this as a recurring trend, but I would guess that they tend to overweight games against top teams compared to the average. That would certainly explain why the SEC’s so predominantly dominating their strength of schedule.

    Sagarin’s ratings consistently have put too much weight into the bottom few games of the schedule and number of conference games, and it ends up causing one conference to cluster near the top of the ratings. A couple of years ago, all ten teams in the Big 12 were in the top 13 of strength of schedule. Iowa State’s OOC schedule was Iowa, Northern Iowa and UConn – but that was ranked as the #2 schedule in the country.

  21. dcroz says: Apr 28, 2014 8:54 PM

    I’m SEC through and through…but this is an epic fail for the league. Continuing to only play eight conference games when all the other major conferences play or are moving to play nine is going to cost the league a slot in the national championship tournament, especially if it comes down to a one-loss SEC team that had three cupcakes on its schedule versus a team from another major conference that has only two.

  22. dcroz says: Apr 28, 2014 8:55 PM

    Oh, and canetic: Alabama and Tennessee have played continuously for decades. They played when Alabama and Auburn refused to play each other (the Iron Bowl was on a 40-year hiatus until 1948, even though both teams played in the Southern Conference and then became charter members of the SEC in 1933), the rivalry is the source of “Third Saturday in October,” and Bear Bryant considered the Vols as the Tide’s #1 rival and not the Tigers. And while Tennessee has been down for several years, they did win the first BCS championship in 1998, giving them the same number of BCS titles as your Canes. Try doing your homework next time, please.

  23. planecrashguy says: Apr 28, 2014 9:15 PM

    Fair enough. My point is, none of those power ratings are biased or wrong. I prefer an honest, consistent analytical process to any human polling system. The Harriss Poll was the last straw.

  24. onlyoneleft says: Apr 28, 2014 10:51 PM

    They have to get those directionals on the schedule: Western Carolina, Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Tenn at Chattanooga, East Carolina Georgia State, etc.

  25. rlw1426bronconation1960 says: May 27, 2014 5:53 PM

    The SEC has a 14 team split division that each have seven teams…. Each SEC team play 4 ooc opponents and 2 optional cross conference opponents….All SEC teams play 1 fcs team, 3 other ooc opponents, and 2 optional cross conference teams..Some SEC teams can and have intentionally signed 3 mid to bottom tier teams from the weakest non aq conf.’s and their two weakest cross conference opponents giving them 6 patsy games leaving each of them playing only 6 mandatory SEC inner conference opponents….. Why are they given SOC power points based on all 14 teams when they only play 6 mandatory conference games, and also given SOS power points on top of that? I think each team should only be awarded power points that are based only on the strength of the teams they have actually played. Anything more is an un earned bonus that gives unfair advantage in the weekly polls that result in ranked match ups between two SEC teams that don’t always deserve to be ranked giving them even more power points for strength of opponent on game day…And so on and so forth…

  26. thekatman says: May 27, 2014 6:52 PM

    To add to rlw1426bronconation1960′s reply.

    If the SEC is to continue playing FCS level teams then all OOC games must be played up front. No back loading the schedule with high school and junior college caliber teams, just so that your starters can get 2 weeks rest.

    If the SEC schedule takes the big leap and plays a Top OOC opponent, then an Oct or early Nov game is appropriate.

  27. rlw1426bronconation1960 says: May 27, 2014 7:44 PM

    I agree. If all NCAA teams, had to earn power points based on a merit system for strength of schedule that is based only on the final poll or power ranking of the opponents they actually played during the season, and nothing for rank of opponent on game day or strength or conference the stronger conferences would be inclined to play more conference opponents and drop the cupcakes. Every season there are teams that prove to have been both over and under rated in the preseason polls….For instance…If a Florida team finishes the 2013 season bowl ineligible with 4-8, conf. record, an ooc record of (1-3) that included a loss to a non a-! team, lost their last 7 strait games, then were ranked@ #19 in the 2014 pre season poll, went even higher in the polls after beating 4 ooc cupcake before playing Alabama in week #5, then lost their next five or six strait games and dropped out of the polls around week 9 or ten then were unranked in the final week when they play Florida State, Alabama and Florida State would both be given the same amount of power points. That would be fairer than giving Alabama power points based on beating a possible top 10 team on game day, then Florida State playing the exact same team and not being award any points for the win. Or vice verse.

  28. rlw1426bronconation1960 says: May 27, 2014 8:24 PM

    I need to make a small correction. In 2014 Florida was actually (4-8) over all, their conf. record was (3-5) and ooc of (1-3) with a loss to a non 1-A…..#19 in the 2014 ESPN poll? .. I’ll let you make your own opinion on the reason for that!

  29. rlw1426bronconation1960 says: Jun 21, 2014 2:49 PM

    ESPN’s contract with the SEC will generate billions of dollars for both parties. Higher the viewer ratings are the more they will both make. Do you think it’s a conflict of interest for ESPN to have any say in the weekly polls.

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