LSU head coach Les Miles
Election season is typically the time where campaigning reaches an all-time high. But for SEC head coaches, the time to campaign for the future of the SEC's scheduling format is now.
The conference is expected to adopt a long-term scheduling format next week during the annual SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla. That format could include the addition of a ninth conference game and/or the elimination of permanent cross-division rivalries.
Miles appeared on the Tim Brando Show on Sirius/XM radio and CBS Sports Network on Wednesday, where he made his case for the future scheduling format of the SEC.
"I recognize that we play in one of the more conferences and that week-in week-out, we're going to play our share of great teams," Miles said. "If you play the six teams from your division and two from the other division and rotate them through, you're going to play some great teams."
In the format, teams play all six teams from their own division, one rotating opponent from the other division and one team from the other division which is an annual fixture on the schedule.
The reason for the permanent cross-division rivalries is to protect long-standing SEC rivalries like Alabama vs. Tennessee and Auburn vs. Georgia after the divisional split prior to the 1992 season.
Since LSU is paired up with Florida, it gets the short end of the stick. Brando noted that since 2000, LSU has played Florida and Georgia—the two most powerful teams from the East—17 times while Alabama has only played the duo eight times.
Unfair? Yes. But it isn't changing any time soon.
The SEC is now heavily involved in the programming business.
The new SEC Network that launches on cable and satellite providers in August 2014 will feature three SEC games per weekend for 13 weekends. That makes providing top-tier inventory a priority for the SEC, and eliminating traditional rivalries that created the foundation of the conference fly in direct opposition of that.
Miles contended that keeping the current eight-game conference schedule and allowing programs to continue to schedule quality out-of-conference matchups would provide quality inventory.
"You have an opportunity to look around in this country and go play other opponents and in different conferences in different places," Miles told Brando. "I think TV content can be served in those four games just as comfortably as a nine-game [conference] schedule."
Well no, it can't. If you're scheduling a home-and-home series with an out-of-conference opponent, that opponent typically holds the media rights when the game is away from Baton Rouge.
That doesn't help the SEC's television interest from a business standpoint, it hurts it.
What scheduling format should the SEC adopt?
The combination of an eight-game conference schedule and the elimination of permanent non-division rivalries is simply not realistic. Not in this landscape.
While the big-time cross-division rivalries like Alabama vs. Tennessee and Auburn vs. Georgia won't directly impact the SEC Network since they will likely land on CBS or ESPN , they will knock other quality matchups down in the pecking order.
So what's the compromise?
Considering what Miles wants, there really isn't one.
A nine-game conference schedule that keeps the permanent cross-division rivalries intact, incorporating the new Missouri vs. Arkansas and Texas A&M vs. South Carolina matchups, would limit creating more crossover between divisions. That wouldn't necessarily make things easier for LSU, but it would, in theory, make things harder for teams that have benefited lately from scheduling quirks.
It also would create more inventory, which—fair or not—benefits everybody long-term. Miles included.
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were taken from the Tim Brando Show on CBS Sports Network (full video of the interview below)