Emerson: SEC soccer schedule will get more durable for everyone. Get in line, Nick Saban.

It’s been three a long time because the SEC added one other recreation to its soccer schedule. Back then, with the enlargement to a dozen groups, it was from seven to eight video games, and then-commissioner Roy Kramer typically recounts what number of of his soccer coaches have been towards doing it: “All of them.”

There’s extra assist this time round because the SEC nears settlement on a nine-game schedule. Nick Saban, in truth, wouldn’t thoughts taking part in 10. Or all of them. But the particulars at the moment are tripping him up, as he instructed SI.com this week:

“They’re giving us Tennessee, Auburn and LSU. I don’t know how they come to that … We got three teams and two of them are in the top 10 and the other is in the top 10 a lot.”

A couple of issues to unpack right here.

First, Saban makes some information by revealing that LSU can be Alabama’s third annual opponent. Auburn and Tennessee have been apparent, and LSU is sensible so far as a latest rivalry, however Mississippi State is nearer (about 90 minutes to the west) and a longer-running matchup. Maybe Saban is working the refs, attempting to get the third workforce downgraded from LSU to Mississippi State, or probably Sewanee. Or, extra possible, Saban doesn’t have as a lot energy with the SEC workplace as individuals suppose he does, that is principally a performed deal and he’s simply venting.


SEC mailbag: What’s holding up schedules, how a lot is 9-game setup value?

Next, Saban’s feedback are the final word praise to Tennessee, which is now apparently firmly again to nationwide relevance after one superb 12 months. Or possibly we have to see. That simply exhibits how cautious everybody must be about judging the schedule format on high quality of opponents: That may be fairly cyclical. History, custom and geography are safer standards to depend upon.

Plus, the SEC can simply revisit the three fastened opponents after a four-year cycle. Hence the necessity to cease referring them to as “permanent” opponents. Nothing is everlasting within the SEC, apart from followers realizing their workforce is the one one which doesn’t cheat, and coaches complaining about schedules.

Finally — and this comes from any person who has spent an inordinate period of time desirous about the fastened opponents — it’s a little bit of an overblown train. Fun to speak about. But ultimately Saban is in principally the identical boat as all his coaches: The nine-game schedule and format change shall be nice for the SEC, and good for school soccer, and make life a lot, a lot more durable for the coaches.

Start with the present standard-bearer: Georgia, the two-time defending nationwide champion, has on paper the easiest schedule in college football history this season, the final with divisions. Starting in 2024, the highway will get a lot more durable. No extra annual video games towards Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky, no extra taking part in six of its eight video games yearly towards what has been the weaker division for many of the previous 10 to fifteen years. This isn’t to say Georgia’s success is a product of that schedule, or else it will have been uncovered within the postseason. (Kirby Smart is 5-1 in College Football Playoff video games, and the one was fairly shut.) But Georgia has additionally clearly had a neater highway to the SEC championship, and now it is going to be going through all these more durable groups from the West at the very least twice each 4 years.


What may SEC schedule format, opponent construction be with Oklahoma, Texas?

That level being the important thing for everyone. As a lot kvetching as there may be concerning the three fastened opponents, on this format all people will play the remainder of the convention at the very least twice each 4 years. Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas, et al., will all see one another as soon as each different 12 months, in essence. Everybody must play at LSU in Death Valley as soon as each 4 years. But LSU may even must go to Sanford Stadium, Neyland Stadium and the Swamp, in addition to visiting the good people in Austin and Norman, at the very least as soon as in a U.S. presidential time period. The higher tier groups is not going to be strangers to one another and can in all probability spend a number of time beating up on one another.

Not that the remainder of the convention will get off simple. Many of them didn’t wish to go up from eight video games within the first place, Kentucky being probably the most vocal. A great compromise could also be that in trade for going to 9, these colleges draw one another among the many fastened opponents. Maybe that’s occurring with Mississippi State not getting Alabama as an opponent, assuming that holds up.

It would work for tv, particularly if the SEC, in attempting to get ESPN to pony up extra in an amended contract, can provide up annual matchups of Alabama-LSU, Oklahoma-Florida, and so on. Because, sure, a lot of that is being performed for tv. That’s what pays a number of the payments.

But it’s additionally being performed for the followers. Really. After too a few years of being connected to the antiquated idea of divisions, the SEC (like most conferences) is ditching them so the schedules get higher. And by higher, which means more durable, simply in time for the expanded CFP to supply some margin for error.

Good for the followers, good for the convention, not so good for the coaches. But they’ll stay.


SEC should respect custom however prioritize blockbuster video games in new schedule with OU, Texas

(Top photograph: Donald Page / Getty Images)

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