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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Time for the 2-Division Football Schedule to Go….

(This post is not written from a realism standpoint but rather one of hopes and wishes.  With the release of the football schedules for the next 12 years last week, it’s clear that a 2-division system will be in place for the foreseeable future)

After the 2011-12 athletic year, the SEC decided to go ahead and drop the traditional 2-division system that had used in college basketball since 1992.  This was in large part due to the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M and critics of the move complained that some of the league’s rivalries would be tarnished by the move.  For instance, Kentucky and Tennessee played twice a year in college basketball in the regular season every season since 1954.  That streak ended in 2014 with the removal of the 2-division system.  But, it also ensured a more balanced league with true league standings and a more fairly seeded SEC Tournament.  All in all, I was a supporter of the move because despite the fact that the annual 2-time battle with Tennessee and Vanderbilt was lost, you still played every team in the conference at least once during the year.

Well, now it is time for the SEC to do the same for football.  Starting in 2003, the schedule was setup so that you had 1 cross-division rival, in Kentucky’s case Mississippi State, and then play the other team’s in the division in consecutive years, home and away.  Put in better terms, you were playing the other division’s teams twice every 4 years.  And in even simpler terms, Kentucky fans could see Alabama play at Commonwealth Stadium every 4 years.  The addition of Texas A&M and Missouri threw a big ‘ol wrench into that system, forcing the old cross-division schedule to go into the trash.

The SEC released the new future schedules last week with a simple premise: teams will play each team in their division, their cross-division rival every year, and then 1 rotating member from the other division.  This leads to UK playing teams from the Western Division (not including MSU) about every 6 years.  But it also means that you won’t play the other 6 teams in the West but ONCE EVERY 12 YEARS AT HOME.  And let’s be honest, 90% of us don’t have the money to travel to College Station, Texas for a college football game. If you had a baby yesterday, that baby will be in the 5th or 6th grade when Texas A&M comes to Lexington for the first time.  Then that child will be OUT OF COLLEGE the next time they come to town, if the schedule remains as it is.

I don’t consider this a good thing at all.  It basically feels like Kentucky is barely in the same conference as the Aggies.  Or Auburn.  Or LSU.  We barely see them on the field anymore.  But if the conference eliminated the 2-division system, this problem could easily be remedied.  Here is why:

1. You can keep permanent rivals. Let every team keep 2 permanent rivals on their schedule every year.  No team in the SEC has more than 2 rivals that HAVE to be on the schedule.  For Kentucky, that would probably be Mississippi State and Vandy……maybe.  The point is though that you can keep the main rivalries of the league together.  But open the other 6 games in the conference slate up for rotation.  This way, you would see every team in your conference on your home field within 5 years.

2. The SEC Championship Game becomes a TRUE title game.  When an 8-0 Alabama plays a 6-2 Georgia team in the SEC title game, sure that’s great.  But is it really a true title game if a 7-1 LSU team also exists?  Why not have the 2 best teams in the league playing in your title game?  The reason is because the 2 best teams could potentially knock one another out of the national title playoff.  But that’s lame and cowardly.

3. Fan Enjoyment.  As I already mentioned, the league should keep fans in mind and realize that for league pride, it sometimes help to have the chance to go see other teams in your league in person.  I don’t care how bad Kentucky is, fans want to see Alabama and LSU play.  Once out of 12 years is not enough when there are better options.

The 2-division system was built to try and build stronger rivals in the league and create an easier system for the newly created SEC Championship.  And that basically worked for 20 years.  Now with league expansion, it has begun to feel like much less of a cohesive league.  I don’t think eliminating the 2 divisions will eliminate rivalries or competition.  The schedule is already unbalanced often as it stands now.  And fans will enjoy it better.

What do you think?  Are you happy with the way the SEC has decided to schedule football for the future?  Or would the removal of 2 divisions make the league better?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

15 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Time for the 2-Division Football Schedule to Go….

  1. Boone
    9:12 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    You have to have the divisions (and play a full round robin within your division) to have a conference championship game. This is the best solution I’ve seen:

    Basically, break the conference into 4 pods, and these pods rotate every other year… It can look a little confusing, but the result is to play EVERY team every other year, keep 2-3 permanent rivals, 8 game schedule, keep the championship game… Such a great solution, that will never be accepted.

    • The Loco Pollo
      9:36 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

      I like it. Well thought out and explained. Thanks for sharing. Hope Mike Slive checks it out.

    • Scott Baio
      9:43 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

      I’ve been a fan of the 4 pod for a long time. Especially when the inevitable happens and the SEC adds two more teams.

    • UK
      9:45 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

      Looks great! Obviously would rather have Tennessee over Arkansas in Kentucky’s pod as they are more of a rival, but this is all conceptual so it doesn’t really matter right now.

  2. Patrick Bieschke
    9:21 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    We should settle for no less than the perfect schedule which obviously is to play 26 league games every year. Home and home with each school. In all sports, of course. The school with the best record is the champion. Simple. Then we can shift debate to less important issues. In due time we can rid ourselves of all anxieties.

    • Math is hard
      9:54 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

      so you’re suggesting adding 14 games to the football schedule and replacing Louisville and the Cupcake State games?

  3. RealUKFan
    9:22 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    It is time for a 9 game conference schedule.

  4. The Loco Pollo
    9:30 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    BTI, only your kid would take 12 years between 5th or 6th grade and completing high school because he will suck worse than you.

    I agree though that the new schedule stinks, especially for people who want to experience the atmosphere at Ole Miss, Alabama & LSU.

  5. UK
    9:31 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    Why is Florida represented by what appears to be a pair of shorts?

    • Swamp rat
      9:53 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

      They’re jorts, high fashion in Gainesville

  6. Eric
    9:38 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    The system now is messed up… but it does benefit uk. We get to play Mississippi State from the west every year, whereas Tennessee gets Alabama. I think keeping 2 rivals and rotating the rest without divisions is a decent idea. It either needs to come to that, or a 6-0-2 schedule without a permanent west rival to be fair. For UK’s sake, I hope we dont go to 9 games.

  7. hahahaha
    9:52 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    Lame and cowardly” Nice argument words lol

  8. Math is hard
    9:52 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    If your kid graduated high school at 24, you have a whole different set of problems than when A&M comes to Commonwealth.

  9. bluegrassstu
    10:50 am May 23, 2014 Permalink

    I like the 4 pods idea, and if that can’t be done, then expand to a 9 game conference schedule, or perhaps a 10 game schedule.

  10. MusicCityCat
    12:53 pm May 23, 2014 Permalink

    Here is a radical idea. Add one more team to the SEC, making it a 15 team conference. Break it into THREE five team divisions.
    Each year you would play the other four teams in your division, and two of the five teams in the other two divisions. That way you would play every team two times (home and away) every five years.
    The problem would,of course, be deciding which teams to put in each division.