SEC Schedule Rotation Still Isn’t Giving Fans What They Want
By Dan Mathews
The rule in all media, especially sports radio, is to tease the topic and then immediately deliver on that tease.
In the case of the SEC schedule rotation release on Monday, the conference teased it and in some cases is making us all wait.
College football fans, primarily in the SEC, will wait no matter what. In sports radio, listeners will turn to another station, especially in a market like Atlanta. So my question is, why make us fans wait? Give us what we want just once!
Every SEC East school has an SEC West rival. Take Georgia for example. In the Bulldogs' case, that school is Auburn. Yet with the conference's 6-1-1 schedule format, they play another SEC East school every season. Last year it was LSU and this year it’s Arkansas in Fayetteville. Who really is intrigued with Georgia and Arkansas?
The itch gets scratched a little next season, with Georgia getting Alabama in Athens. Last time we saw these two teams on the field, it was basically for the national title in Atlanta (the 2012 SEC championship). That’s what I’m talking about! After that game, we’ll all have to wait until 2020 to see them play each other in Tuscaloosa. Cue the slumped shoulders and sad face.
Fans want to see the flagship schools in the East and West divisions play each other more often. They could give a damn about seeing LSU play Vanderbilt, then traveling to Kentucky next season in addition to playing Florida every year.
LSU coach Les Miles made a good point about scheduling at last year's SEC Media Days. LSU had to play Georgia and Florida in the same season after the team played Florida and a strong South Carolina club the previous year. Point taken, Hatter! Because let’s look at the great Alabama Crimson Tide. They have a rivalry with Tennessee, we get that. The Vols will be back to relevance sooner rather than later and that might even be this season. However, last season they took on Kentucky in Lexington. Wow, SEC! We have all been waiting at the edge of our seats for that matchup. This season they’ll take on Florida and as previously mentioned Georgia on the road in 2015. However in 2016 they get Kentucky at home and then Vanderbilt on the road in 2017. Should I go ahead and make my reservations at the local sports bar now?
Four teams advance past the regular season in the new College Football Playoff. With the trend toward parity, we’ll see more one- and two-loss teams making the final four. So give the people what they want!
I mentioned the flagship programs in the SEC earlier in this article and I have those teams in my mind, at least entering the 2014 season. In the West they are Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M. In the East these programs are Missouri, Georgia, Florida (fan base and history alone), South Carolina and Tennessee. The Vols will bounce back in 2014 and I believe that Butch Jones will have them back to the late '90s/early 2000s Volunteers in the coming years.
Getting back to Georgia … can someone tell me why it won’t have its first regular-season meeting with conference newcomer Texas A&M until 2019? How are two of your flagship programs not playing each other until then? Strike while the iron is hot and get us the 'Dawgs taking on Agg Swagg in 2016. In reality we’ll be treated to Texas A&M hosting Tennessee. Good game, but Georgia should be getting its crack at A&M first based off their most recent body of work.
The schedule rotation is a step in the right direction in some regards; however, the SEC missed a golden opportunity at giving fans what they really want: To see the group of nine programs I mentioned playing each other every couple seasons.