By Hunter Ford
I didn’t realize corndogs paired so well with whine and cheese. That is, until I read LSU’s head football coach Les Miles’ and athletic director Joe Alleva’s boo-hooing about the “bias” of the SEC football schedule.
The SEC recently adopted rules to keep an eight-game conference schedule and to keep the traditional cross-division schedule, playing one fixed opponent and one rotating opponent. The SEC added one new wrinkle, making it mandatory for each SEC school to schedule at least one non-conference game against an opponent from one of the other big-time conferences (formerly known as BCS).
Apparently, Miles and Alleva believe this is grossly unfair. Here are choice quotes:
Miles said, “We play the toughest schedule in America in our conference, and then we have the (bias) of the permanent partner. We’re now also being mandated to take a BCS team. The bias of the schedule continues to be disproportionate. Fundamentally fair is not something they’ve given thought to.”
Alleva had this to say: “I am very disappointed that the leaders of the SEC disregard the competitive advantage that the permanent partners award to certain schools…LSU has played Florida and Georgia 19 times since 2000, and Bama has played them eight times. Is that fair?”
It seems they are singling out Alabama for having a competitive advantage, more than any other school, because LSU has to face Florida as a permanent opponent and Alabama has Tennessee as a fixed cross division foe.
Disemboweling their argument is easy. For starters, LSU is 6-4 against the Gators in the past 10 meetings. Alabama is 8-2 against Tennessee in that stretch, but Tennessee has simply been on a down cycle. That won’t last forever. The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry has historically been one where one team tends to dominate over a period of several seasons. Tennessee is historically one of the top-tier teams not only in the SEC, but also the entire NCAA.
Looking at the history of the SEC Championship game, the East and West Divisions are an even 11-11 in wins and losses. Ten of the 14 SEC schools have played in the championship game. Six schools, three from each division, have won championships- Alabama, Auburn, and LSU from the West, and Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee from the East. That is about as “fair” as it gets. Miles and Alleva must envy Ole Miss, Kentucky and Vanderbilt for some odd reason.
No SEC school has repeated as champion since Tennessee did it in 1997-98. If you look at the records since 2000, Tennessee is 0-3 in SEC Championship Games, Georgia is 2-3, Florida is 3-1, Auburn is 3-1, Alabama is 2-1, and LSU? The Corndogs are 4-1. Obviously, the “bias” is killing them.
What about the “mandate” to play a major non-conference opponent? What about it? The best SEC schools, including LSU, have been doing that for years now, and with great success. It is the wise thing to do, especially in the new playoff era when strength of schedule should weigh heavily come selection time. Miles is the only coach in BCS history to win a national championship with two losses; he shouldn’t be scared of playing a tough schedule.
Miles and Alleva should blow their noses, wipe their eyes, and shut their funnel cake holes. Their half-fried argument just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Note: Nick Saban has openly advocated for a nine-game SEC schedule. He reasoned that both fans and players would rather see more SEC competition than games against directional schools. Playing a nine-game schedule could allow each SEC team to play every other SEC team at least once in a shorter cycle than the current format.