At the SEC meetings in Destin, FL next month, one of the topics of discussion will be whether the conference should switch to a nine-game schedule in the coming years. This is not breaking new ground, the Pac-12 and Big 12 already do so and the Big 10 will start in 2016. However, if the rest of the country wants to see SEC teams schedule quality out-of-conference games, this proposal needs to be voted down.
The SEC conference schedules are often the most brutal in the land, most critics can agree on that statement. These same critics have pointed out that SEC teams, over the years, often schedule very weak out-of-conference opponents. Whether it is done by choice or necessity, the argument does hold water. Fans of many SEC teams are witness to three or four snooze fests every year that no major television network would dream of broadcasting.
Several teams have answered the criticism and scheduled harder opponents in the Pac-12, Big 10 or ACC. It has been gradual, but in recent years the country has been witness to games such as Alabama vs. Michigan, Georgia vs. Boise State, Tennessee vs. Oregon, Ole Miss vs. Texas, LSU vs. Oregon and Auburn vs. Clemson. Big-time games with big-time implications and television ratings.
If the nine-game conference schedule is approved, these games will become a thing of the past. With the new playoff system in place, SEC teams will be less likely to take chances. The concern being that after cannibalizing each other for nine games, going to Los Angeles or South Bend for a game will be too much pressure. Especially for schools like Georgia and Florida, who finish the season with a tough in-state, out-of-conference opponent every year anyway.
FCS opponents will get a giant paycheck to get slaughtered three times a year and fans will lose the opportunity to see matchups that actually matter in the national championship race. They will have to wait until the bowl games, many of which have lost significance and barely add fuel to the “what conference is superior?” fire anymore. Let’s hope that the SEC stays with the eight-game tilt so the regular season schedules stay diversified and entertaining.