LSU HC Les Miles Voices Displeasure for Permanent Cross-Division Opponents
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The football scheduling format was one of the hot-button topics of the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., last spring; and LSU head coach Les Miles isn't done with his fight to remove permanent cross-division opponents.
The SEC adopted the 6-1-1 format for the 2013 season that features six intra-division opponents, one rotating opponent from the opposite division and one permanent cross-division rival. The permanent cross-division rival exists in an effort to maintain historical rivalries like Alabama vs. Tennessee and Auburn vs. Georgia.
The league is only scheduled through 2013, and that format could be reviewed, according to CBSSports.com.
LSU gets the short end of the stick having to face Florida every year, and Miles wants a change.
"It's interesting to see how you would compare our schedule with others," Miles said on the SEC coaches' post-spring teleconference. "I wonder if there should be no permanent partners. I wonder if we couldn't choose cross-division opponents through a random computer draw."
Miles wants computers—the bane of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) existence—to determine the SEC schedule?
That'll go well.
Miles is right in the sense that it's not fair. Florida, more times than not, fields a competitive football team, which makes LSU's schedule that much harder than Mississippi State's, which plays Kentucky every season.
But even his fellow coaches know that nobody said that it was going to be fair.
"If we want to be fair, we wouldn’t have permanent opponents," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said immediately after Miles on the call. "But nobody said it was supposed to be fair."
Spurrier is right.
Permanent cross-division rivals preserve traditional rivalries within the SEC, and those rivalries are the foundation of the league. As the most recent realignment bonanza progressed, traditional rivalries of the SEC's two newest members have disappeared.
Texas A&M and Texas don't play anymore, and neither do Missouri and Kansas. Maintaining intra-conference rivalries should be one of the primary focuses of future scheduling for the SEC.
It isn't fair that a minority of teams prefer to play their traditionally tough cross-division rivalries every year. But let's think big picture here.
Should the SEC do away with permanent cross-division rivals?
If we lose "The Third Saturday in October" between Alabama and Tennessee and "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" between Auburn and Georgia, part of the intrigue of the conference will disappear.
With television revenues skyrocketing and the SEC Network coming in 2014, the need for quality inventory will grow. Yes, that probably means that a nine-game conference schedule will become reality at some point. But it also means that the SEC should fight to maintain some of the primary reasons it has elevated itself to its current elite level.
Traditional SEC rivalries are precisely the type of quality inventory that television networks want. That means Miles' desire to do away with permanent cross-division rivalries will likely fall on deaf ears.
*Barrett Sallee is the Lead SEC CFB Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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