I agree you ought to see the other teams in the opposite division more often than every decade. My problem with a 9 game schedule is that in a tight divisional race, the difference could be made by which team had rotated into their year to have 5 home games and 4 away games and which had 4 home games and 5 away games. It all balances out over time I suppose, and there are already years when the divisional race can be influenced by who gets to host a particular team or who actually avoids a particular team on the schedule. But 5 away games in this conference every other year is a pretty daunting prospect.
SEC public relations ace Charles Bloom — deluged with questions about a nine-game football schedule no doubt — has taken to Twitter to write the following:
“#SEC will continue to play eight conference games in football. There has been no discussions on nine game schedule.”
So did University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides give false information to his own school’s student newspaper? Did he simply give his opinion? Did Josh Dawsey, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Gamecock misunderstand Pastides meaning?
Considering the fact that Dawsey relays quite a bit of detailed information from Pastides — ex: “The president guaranteed USC would keep its annual matchup with Arkansas.” — it’s doubtful that Dawsey was reading into things.
It’s also unlikely that Pastides just flat-out lied to a reporter for the USC student paper. He’s been quoted in that publication quite often in recent weeks — on sports topics — and we can’t recall any problems like this arising in the past.
So we suspect the SEC office might be making sure that everyone’s unanimous regarding schedules moving forward. Schools like Florida and Georgia and Arkansas and Texas A&M, who play at neutral sites, would stand to possibly lose a bit more cash from the loss of another home date every other year. Those schools’ presidents probably need a bit more coaxing and cajoling when it comes to a nine-game schedule.
But as we pointed out here, the most likely path for a 14-team SEC is one that leads to a nine-game schedule. Unless the league is cooking up some sort of free-for-all plan, the best way to insure balance, the continuation of old rivalries, and regular matchups between all league foes is to move to a nine-game schedule.
Bloom’s comment? We think it’s spin control. The SEC doesn’t want one president to say a deal’s done before all 14 presidents have OK’d said deal.
Do you really believe 13 SEC presidents just voted to add another school without anyone ever asking what that move would mean for scheduling? For travel? For home game revenues? So it’s pretty hard to believe there have been “no discussions.”
And for how many weeks did SEC officials claim that they were considering a 13-team schedule only for 2012… only to have an ESPN executive and then Mike Slive himself admit otherwise?
The league will go to nine-games just like all the other BCS leagues are planning to do. It’s as sure a thing as Missouri’s entry into the SEC was. An eight-game schedule will hurt the league long-term. Slive has to know that. Pastides knows that. It’s our bet a few more presidents just need convincing of that.
We now expect Pastides to try to somehow distance himself from his earlier comments for the purpose of maintaining league harmony. But that won’t change the fact that a nine-game schedule is coming at some point.