Thursday, January 31, 2013
SEC, Big 12 talk possible partnership
By Edward Aschoff
Talks have been minimal, but the SEC could be looking to enhance its future nonconference scheduling.
Jon Solomon of AL.com wrote Wednesday that the SEC and Big 12 have had limited discussions about a possible partnership between the two conferences when it comes to regular-season football scheduling.
Remember when the Big Ten and Pac-12 tried to create their own partnership that would stretch to multiple sports before the deal fell through? That's what this would be on the football front.
"That's a situation we would keep an open mind on, but we haven't had a lot of significant discussions at this point," SEC Executive Associate Commissioner Mark Womack said. "There's a lot of different ways that could work. At this point, we're continuing to move forward with scheduling the conference as we've planned."
The SEC has its 2013 scheduling format set, but the future of SEC scheduling doesn't exactly have a timetable. As Solomon points out, current bowl agreements will expire this year and 2014 will bring the four-team playoff to college football. Strength of schedule is supposed to be a factor that the future selection committee strongly considers when picking its four playoff teams, so this would certainly be another advantage for the SEC.
The SEC hasn't exactly been very consistent when it comes to scheduling tough out-of-conference foes, so having a partnership with the Big 12 would certainly boost SEC teams' strength of schedule with all those directional schools and FCS teams thrown into the mix.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Austin American-Statesman last week the Big 12 is exploring a possible alliance with the ACC and two other conferences. The SEC and the Big 12 already joined to create the new Sugar Bowl for the playoff, but the two could become even closer if they were to create a scheduling partnership.
But as Womack points out, scheduling could be difficult for the SEC because of the traditional nonconference rivals that some schools have and the need for seven home games by some programs.
Still, if this were to happen, it would be a win for both conferences. It would certainly make it tougher for SEC teams to get through the year unscathed, but a stronger résumé won't hurt in the end. Plus, better matchups make for better, more exciting games, which is what I really care about.
You could have traditional powers like Alabama taking on Texas. Florida could take on one of its old pals by traveling to Norman, Okla., to face Bob Stoops and his Oklahoma Sooners. Texas A&M and Missouri could play some of their old mates again, as well.
This could just be a pipe dream for football enthusiasts, considering the scheduling difficulties, but it could make for some very good football in the future.