It’s hard to find someone who isn’t disappointment with the decisions made by the SEC to keep their schedule at eight conference games and with a set cross-division rivalry, which makes things quite easy for teams like Alabama who have to face Tennessee each season, while LSU seem to be stuck with Florida, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of “fairness”.
While most of College Football or at least the major conferences have already moved or are thinking about moving to a nine-game conference schedule, the SEC is in a different mode of thought. With 14 teams, playing nine conference games seems to make sense, but despite mentioning improving their strength of schedule, the only move made towards that is forcing teams to schedule one game against a rival from a major conference from 2016 onward.
Some teams play eight home games in a season. Texas A&M played against Texas El Paso, Sam Houston State, SMU and Rice last season for their four non-conference games. Other schools didn’t put up much of an effort to find themselves better rivals. Schools like Florida and South Carolina, who have an annual rivalry with in-state schools from the ACC (and the same goes for Georgia, although against currently a weaker opponent), might think that they’re getting the short end of the stick.
Coaches, most of them, were against an annual, common opponent. Rotation seemed to make more sense, as most cross-divisional rivalries don’t seem to mean much these days in the SEC. Auburn – Georgia might stand out in this case, but Alabama playing Tennessee every season while LSU play Florida just doesn’t seem to make much sense considering the average quality of each team on a year-to-year basis.
But College Football is about putting a good enough schedule together to create an impression, but also making it a winnable one as well. It’s not about fair or equal. It can’t be with some schools carrying a lot more weight than others on a conference and national level. You look at what Florida and Tennessee have to go through next season, and then you compare it to the schedule Vanderbilt and Mississippi State have, and any talk of fair should be thrown out the window.
We still don’t know how the playoff committee is going to work, and what will be the thing they do that annoys everyone. Without the BCS rankings to guide them, everyone seems to think that strength of schedule is going to be the main thing in determining who really is the best. The SEC love to talk about how playing in-conference is enough of a difficulty for everyone their, but maybe last season showed cracks in the armor, that all the politicking and promoting from ESPN aren’t going to help them hide.