Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday where friends and family come together. But it is part of the reason that the Week 12 slate of SEC football games leaves a lot to be desired.
Before the 2007 season, the SEC changed its rules and mandated that all schools play on Thanksgiving weekend, according to ESPN.com. Prior to 2007, some teams—including Auburn and Alabama—finished their seasons the week prior to Thanksgiving weekend, giving them two weeks to prepare for the SEC Championship Game if they made it.
As a result, many SEC teams have used the week prior to Thanksgiving to schedule cupcakes to rest up for their annual rivalry games at the end of the season.
Seven SEC schools will face off against teams from outside of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) this week, and Missouri will host out-of-conference foe Syracuse in Columbia. All told, there are only three conference games in the SEC in Week 12.
Three of the teams scheduling Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponents this week—Florida, Georgia and South Carolina—have already wrapped up their SEC schedules thanks to out-of-conference rivalry games during rivalry week.
Talk about closing on a low note.
The SEC's decision to force teams to play on Thanksgiving weekend makes sense, but it has created a scheduling format that is incredibly anti-climactic.
The mandate to play games on Thanksgiving weekend isn't going to change, which is precisely why a nine-game SEC schedule is going to be coming sooner rather than later.
When the SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri, it added four of the top 31 local television markets according to Nielsen. Commissioner Mike Slive is in the midst of re-negotiating the SEC's media rights deals, which will result in increased revenue and likely the creation of an SEC cable network.
ESPN and CBS may tolerate the fact that they only had three conference games to choose from in mid-November, but they don't like it. If Slive wants to maximize the money coming into the conference from media rights deals, he will institute a nine-game schedule in the near future.
As a result, weekend schedules like the one we have on Week 12 will be less likely.