Coaches are struggling with the format of future interdivisional play in the SEC. All of the momentum heading into this week’s meetings in the league was for the 6-1-1 format to be the schedule of the future in the conference. Most astute observers still feel it will turn out this way for a number of reasons.
But the conference’s 14 coaches, all with differing agendas, couldn’t come to an agreement on what the format should be. This is why coaches coach and administrators administrate.
It should be pointed out that support (or lack thereof) from SEC coaches doesn’t mean something will move forward at the conference level, so the confusion coming from the coaches’ meetings shouldn’t cause for any real concern for fans.
Still, LSU coach Les Miles led the charge in trying to get rid of traditional interdivisional rivalries. He argued that Florida-LSU, Alabama-Tennessee and Georgia-Auburn should go away in favor of those six teams rotating with the other eight on an every-year basis.
The Third Saturday in October? Gone. The South’s Oldest Rivalry? Done.
Miles’ argument, and it’s a good one from the Tigers’ perspective, is that Mississippi State has an easier path to the SEC West each year than LSU because the Bulldogs face Kentucky each season.
Come on Les. Everyone else is rolling their eyes while you have your back turned.
What Miles (and what sounds like the majority of coaches) is not taking into consideration is television. SEC coaches against traditional interdivisional rivalries are thinking like coaches… and only like coaches. They only think of what is in their path – not necessarily what ultimately pays their salary.
CBS isn’t itching to televise the Mississippi State-Kentucky or Vanderbilt-Ole Miss classics… but Florida-LSU, Alabama-Tennessee and Georgia-Auburn are staples of CBS programming. Those three interdivisional games alone take up almost a quarter of the Eye in the Sky’s SEC football programming each year.
Those games are going nowhere.
Perhaps coaches fail to recognize the fact that TV, no matter what SEC Commissioner Mike Slive says, is going to pretty much make the conference continue traditional interdivisional rivalries.
Why? When you are obligated to pay out at least $3 billion over the dozen years you call the shots – not Slive, and certainly not the coaches.
That action could come in the 6-1-1 format or by moving to a nine-game SEC schedule, which could be 6-1-2 (six divisional-one traditional interdivisional rivalry-two rotating interdivisional).
No matter the format the smart money is on the traditional interdivisionals sticking around for the long term. So one way or another the SEC will almost certainly continue its traditional interdivisional rivalries no matter if the coaches like it or not.