One of the side effects of realignment has been headaches associated with scheduling, and the SEC has been in search of some pain relievers to alleviate that this week at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla.
Eight-game schedule? Nine-game schedule? The SEC has stopped short of settling on a long-term solution to an increasingly-heated debate.
While LSU head coach Les Miles has been one of the most outspoken proponents of keeping the current eight-game slate, his administration isn't too concerned about the potential impact that ninth conference game will have on scheduling tough out-of-conference matchups.
According to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com, LSU is working on a deal for a neutral-site game with Wisconsin at Reliant Stadium in Houston in 2014, followed by another neutral-site game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay to take on the Badgers sometime between 2016-18. Fowler points out that the deal is "close," and the most likely year for the trip to Lambeau is 2017.
The SEC is sticking with the eight-game schedule for 2014 and likely 2015 as well. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess.
With all of the coaches other than Alabama's Nick Saban falling on the side of the eight-game schedule, it's clear that there's some big-time lobbying going on behind the scenes for the nine-game format—which will win out, eventually.
A ninth conference game could come at the expense of tough out-of-conference games, but apparently it won't for LSU.
Good for the Tigers.
The've gone out of their way to play tough out-of-conference games in recent years, including season-openers at neutral sites versus North Carolina and Oregon, and will open the 2013 season against TCU in the Cowboys Classic. LSU wrapped up a home-and-home series with West Virginia in 2011, and have series with Arizona State, N.C. State and Oklahoma on the books between 2015-20 according to FBSchedules.com.
What makes a trip to Lambeau in 2017 attractive? It's the one year in that three-year window where LSU could make a road trip while still playing seven home games.
The likely holdup in finalizing the deal is a desire by LSU to avoid having only six home games as the Tigers did during their 2011 run to the SEC Championship.
As of now, LSU has home games versus N.C. State and Georgia Southern on the docket.
With an eight-game conference schedule, the Tigers can add another home game to the two out-of-conference home games already on the schedule and play seven times at Tiger Stadium. In a nine-game conference schedule, seven home games would still be possible as long as LSU hosts five conference games that year.
Whether the Wisconsin matchup is finalized or not, it's clear that LSU isn't going to shy away from stepping out of its comfort zone to play tough opponents, no matter what the format of the future SEC schedules is.
That's good for the Tigers, good for the SEC and good for college football.
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