The SEC spent four days last week in Destin discussing future scheduling possibilities in football, but could not reach a consensus or a decision about what the format should be starting in 2016.
But after being around the coaches, athletic directors, presidents and league commissioner Mike Slive all last week, it seems pretty obvious where the league is headed with this. The coaches aren’t going to like it, but it appears inevitable that the league is going to go to a nine-game SEC schedule starting in 2016.
The coaches obviously don’t want it — other than Alabama’s Nick Saban, an advocate of the nine-game schedule. Last week, 13 of the 14 coaches said their ideal format would to stick with the eight-game schedule with two cross-division rotating games.
The ADs and presidents will listen to the coaches and consider their reasons for wanting to stay at eight. And even some of the presidents and ADs likely will side with the coaches and push for eight games.
But here’s the bottom line on this: ESPN is going to want a nine-game SEC schedule in the future to help feed the new SEC Network. And what ESPN wants, ESPN gets when it comes to college football.
I hate to agree with ESPN on this, but going to a nine-game schedule just makes more sense, given the fact the league has expanded to 14 teams. Yes, I know, the league is tough enough as it is with eight SEC games, but that leaves too many holes in the schedule and those holes are being filled with inferior competition, leading to those late-season non-conference games that no one really cares to watch.
Saban made a great point last week when stating his case for a nine-game schedule. Saban said the league needs to consider the fans when making decisions like this one.
“One of these days, they’re going to quit coming to the games because they’re going to stay at home and watch it on TV,” Saban said. “Everybody’s going to say, ‘Why don’t you come to the games?’ Well, if you’d play somebody good, then we’d come to the games. That should be the first consideration. Nobody’s considering them.”
So, let’s consider the fans and go ahead and start playing that nine-game schedule in 2016.