Last week’s announcement about the new SEC Network was seen as a victory for each of the conference’s 14 schools. However, the prospect of a nine-game SEC football schedule is not the best news for some schools in the league.
Among those not in favor of a nine-game SEC schedule would likely be the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou struggled to a 5-7 record in 2012, its first season in the conference. That included a 2-6 mark in the conference, with wins over the Kentucky Wildcats and the Tennessee Volunteers.
When facing more formidable competition, head coach Gary Pinkel and his team struggled last season. Not only were the Tigers beaten on the scoreboard, they were literally beaten up all season, struggling with numerous injuries that limited some of the more talented players on the roster, including quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey.
Missouri, at this time, is not among the best teams in the SEC; that much is obvious. Unless/until the Tigers can get to that point, there is no reason they would want to play a nine-game SEC schedule. Mizzou is currently in the SEC’s Eastern Division, meaning they have annual games against the Florida Gators, the Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky, the South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee and the Vanderbilt Commodores. In addition to those six games, Mizzou faces two opponents from the Western Division of the conference. A third game against the West would be a lot to ask of the Tigers at this point.
If Missouri hopes to turn its fortunes, and hopes to return to a bowl game, a ninth conference game is not the way to go. For example, this season, Mizzou’s non-conference opponents are: Murray State, Toledo, Arkansas State and the Indiana Hoosiers. If the SEC had a nine-game conference schedule this year, Missouri would replace one of those opponents (probably Indiana) with the likes of the LSU Tigers or the Alabama Crimson Tide.
A nine-game schedule will be great for ESPN, and likely for the SEC, but it would not be good for the Missouri Tigers.