May 17th, 2013 11:00 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: ACC, Big Ten, ESPN, SEC
Basketball coaches usually wrap up their own non-conference schedules just months ahead of their next season.
In football — with much more money on the table — athletic directors handle the non-conference scheduling. Typically any “big” games are lined up at least a year or two in advance. Aside from neutral site money games (Atlanta, Arlington, Houston, etc), most all games between BCS-level foes are scheduled three, four, five or more years in advance.
For that reason, it’s much easier to pull off a two-conference “challenge” type event on the hardwood than it is on the gridiron. There are only 12 football games per season (as opposed to 27-30 regular-season basketball games). Each one of those 12 games has an enormous impact on an athletic department’s year-end revenue. And with a playoff on the way, the top-tier games on a school’s schedule will have to locked down for strength of schedule purposes.
All that said, in recent months, with conference realignment talk filling cyberspace and the airwaves, talk of conference challenges and scheduling alliances has still generated more talk than ever among football fans… and between actual conferences.
The Big XII admitted that it had had talks with the ACC about such a scheduling partnership. Then — just as we suggested on this site — it was learned that some talks between the Big XII and the SEC had occurred as well.
Just this week news broke that the Mountain West and Pac-12 are exploring a possible scheduling deal. That’s the same Pac-12 that had initially reached such an agreement with the Big Ten.
And what do all of those alliances — Big XII/ACC, Big XII/SEC, MWC/Pac-12, Pac-12/Big Ten — have in common?
Not one of them has actually gone from theory to reality. Not one. But they sure look neat on paper, don’t they?
On this site, before John Swofford pulled a grant of rights agreement out of his hat, we suggested that the SEC could help save the ACC — if it wanted to — by agreeing to a scheduling alliance with that league. The ACC was looking for extra cash — cash that ESPN is now stepping in to provide in an effort to halt further realignment — and a series of neutral site games against SEC squads all branded under a corporate sponsor’s logo would have been worth some nice cash for both the SEC and the ACC.
An ACC/SEC partnership would make sense in non-financial ways, too. Already Florida/Florida State, Georgia/Georgia Tech and South Carolina/Clemson meet annually. With Louisville set to join the ACC, the Kentucky/Louisville game would become the fourth built-in tilt between the leagues. Vanderbilt and Wake Forest just wrapped up a series of games suggesting those two schools could form a fifth partnership. If those five games remained/became annual events it would leave nine schools from each league — not counting part-time ACC member Notre Dame — to match up on a rotating basis. The best matchups could be moved to NFL stadiums in Atlanta or Nashville or Charlotte or Washington or Pittsburgh. ESPN would love it. In-season “bowl” games.
Just as a random example, imagine the following as one season’s lineup of games:
|SEC School||ACC School||Annual/Rotation||Location|
|Florida||Florida State||Annual||On Campus|
|Georgia||Georgia Tech||Annual||On Campus|
|Miss. State||Boston Coll.||Rotation||On Campus|
|Ole Miss||Duke||Rotation||On Campus|
|S. Carolina||Clemson||Annual||On Campus|
|Texas A&M||Virginia Tech||Rotation||Houston|
|Vanderbilt||Wake Forest||Annual||On Campus|
Not every game would be a winner but even the worst games would beat matchups with FCS squads. And again, the above is just an example. (Please, look at the possibilities and don’t get hung up on who we matched with whom and where… this isn’t about the specifics).
In the above scenario there would be a battle between two corps of cadets. A new border battle. Extreme North versus extreme South. A David Cutcliffe Bowl. Plus some good games between traditionally strong programs.
Slap an AT&T logo on all of them, give them to ESPN (potentially for its SEC and ACC networks) and let everyone rake in the cash.
But that’s just one option for an SEC scheduling alliance.
We also suggested that with the ACC reaching out to the Big XII for a series of games, the SEC could damage Swofford’s league’s chances of survival — if it wanted to — by stealing their dates, so to speak. Sources claim the Big XII and SEC had some discussions at some level about the possibility of an alliance. The two leagues have already broken new ground with their co-ownership of the Sugar Bowl. They’ve also just officially announced a basketball challenge. If two leagues appear to be getting chummy at the moment, it’s the SEC and the Big XII (ironic considering the moves of Missouri and Texas A&M).
In theory — there’s that word again — the four existing SEC/ACC rivalries could be left intact with the 10 remaining SEC teams lining up games with the 10 squads from the Big XII.
Imagine this draw as a possible slate of games:
|SEC School||Big XII School||Annual/Rotation||Location|
|Arkansas||Kansas State||Rotation||St. Louis|
|Auburn||Texas Tech||Rotation||On Campus|
|Ole Miss||Baylor||Rotation||On Campus|
|Texas A&M||Texas||Annual||On Campus|
|Vanderbilt||Iowa State||Rotation||On Campus|
Under that plan you’d have Nick Saban coaching against his home state school. Mike Gundy would face the team whose job he didn’t take. There would a We-Hate-Tommy-Tuberville Bowl. There would also be showdown between Bears and Black Bears. (Sorry, Rebel fans. It had to be done).
Throw a Dr. Pepper logo on that “SEC/Big XII Challenge” and split the games between ESPN and FOX depending on each game’s location. Money, money, money for all.
Now, again, not all of those games would be home runs. They would, however, be infinitely more interesting than the total strikeouts that are Florida versus Georgia Southern, Arkansas versus Samford, Tennessee versus Austin Peay, etc.
So if scheduling alliances look so good on paper, what’s the problem?
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