Don't Expect the Rest of the SEC to Follow LSU's Lead in Scheduling Pac-12 Teams

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Don't Expect the Rest of the SEC to Follow LSU's Lead in Scheduling Pac-12 Teams
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You have to hand it to LSU. With the University of the Incarnate Word apparently booked for all future dates, the Tigers have done the next best thing scheduling-wise.  

Monday afternoon, the university announced on its website that it has added a pair of home-and-home series with Pac-12 members Arizona State and UCLA. The Tigers are scheduled to travel to Tempe in 2022 before hosting the Sun Devils the following year. Likewise, LSU is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles in 2021 and host the Bruins in 2024.

Of course, both of these series are a long way off. For all anyone knows, Tiger coach Les Miles may have finally kicked his grass-eating habit by then. 

Still, these are the kind of matchups fans enjoy, and theoretically, the College Football Playoff selection committee will take into account when drafting the four-team postseason field. 

It would be all kinds of fun if more SEC teams scheduled either home-and-home or neutral site series with Pac-12 opponents. College football doesn't see it nearly enough in either the regular season or the postseason, as B/R's Barrett Sallee tweets. 

In 2013, it was clear the Pac-12 was the second-best conference in college football behind the SEC, if it hadn't closed the gap entirely. 

But what are the odds of the rest of the SEC following LSU's lead by scheduling Pac-12 teams? Not great, in all likelihood. 

—— Update ——

Future non-conference games between Texas A&M and the Pac-12 have been added to the following paragraph.

—— End Update ——

Like LSU, there are other future series that are a long way off. Texas A&M has a home-and-home against Oregon scheduled in 2018 and '19, and against UCLA in 2016 and '17. Another game between Texas A&M and Arizona State is scheduled for 2015. Tennessee is scheduled to play USC in 2021 and '22 at sites to be determined. Furthermore, there have been series with Pac-12 teams in the past (Tennessee and Oregon comes to mind). 

Chris Carlson

Beyond that, though, there are a few obstacles for a "Pac-12-SEC challenge" of sorts to exist. 

The first is the upcoming SEC Network. As Sallee pointed out earlier this month, that likely spells the start of a nine-game conference schedule in the not-too-distant future. With the ever-growing demand for quality inventory, money is going to take precedence over the traditional line of thinking, which is set on having eight conference games. 

Along those lines, ESPN.com's Heather Dinich reported in February that the ACC was looking into an "8+1" scheduling partnership with the SEC. However, the legs for that concept have yet to fully grow. 

SEC commissioner Mike Slive told ESPN.com through a spokesman that his conference wants to create a scheduling format to take effect in 2016, but no details have been finalized.

"Achieving that objective involves exploring as many options as possible, which we are currently doing," Slive said. "Anything more is pure speculation."

Scheduling games with the ACC makes sense as four SEC teams—Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina—have long-standing rivals there. Additionally, one can only hold out hope Texas A&M will eventually have Texas back on its schedule. 

All of this makes it more difficult for the Pac-12 to find its way onto more SEC schedules, whether through a conference-to-conference agreement or on a per-school basis.

Even though the ACC-SEC concept is far from finalized, there are at least discussions. The same thing can't be said about the SEC and Pac-12. 

And no one wants to over-schedule. Finding balance in scheduling is difficult. While it's important to have at least one quality non-conference opponent per year, no one wants to schedule their way out of a playoff spot, for example. 

There may be some interesting Pac-12-SEC games in future playoffs, but for the time being, that's about it. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All scheduling information courtesy of fbschedules.com

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