- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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LSU coach Les Miles said Wednesday it’s time to do away with permanent cross-divisional opponents in the SEC.
“A key piece for any conference is to allow equal access for any champion,” said Miles, who suggested that a computer should be utilized to select a rotation of two cross-divisional opponents for each team in the league.
Currently, everybody has one permanent cross-divisional opponent and one rotating cross-divisional opponent. LSU and Florida face each other every year as permanent opponents, and Miles said that hurts the Tigers.
For example, LSU faces Florida and Georgia from the East in 2013. Meanwhile, neither Alabama nor Texas A&M face Florida or Georgia next season.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said if the SEC wants to be fair, it will do away with permanent cross-divisional foes. The Head Ball Coach didn’t stop there, either.
“Tennessee’s got Alabama, who’s been the best team the last three or four years, and that’s not fair for Tennessee to have to play those guys every year,” Spurrier said. “But I don’t know. Heck, that’s just sort of the way it is. The coaches … we don’t make the rules. We just try to coach our teams the best we can.
“Nobody said it’s supposed to be fair anyway. Have you ever heard any commissioner or anybody say it’s supposed to be fair? They’d make the recruiting rules more fair. Right now, it seems like the same team gets all the top players every year in recruiting. We just need to go play whoever they tell us to play and do the best we can, and things will work out hopefully.”
Florida coach Will Muschamp said he understands the arguments on both sides of the cross-divisional opponents issue, but would rather leave it up to SEC commissioner Mike Slive to make that decision.
Muschamp did say Florida would be opposed to any scheduling model that would include nine conference games, because the Gators face Florida State every year out of conference.
Alabama coach Nick Saban favors a plan that would allow a player to face every school in the league at least once during his career.
“I think it makes it more league-oriented to play more cross-divisional games,” Saban said.
How to go about doing that is the tricky part.
Saban said playing two cross-divisional foes every year and eliminating the permanent foe would be one way, but he also pointed out that going to nine conference games would also allow teams the opportunity to play more cross-divisional games. That way, the Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia rivalries would survive on a yearly basis.
Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, who will be making his debut in the SEC next season after coming over from Wisconsin, leans to the side of status quo.
“I’m a big believer of if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Bielema said. “The SEC has won seven straight national championships, but the world in 2014 changes a little bit (with the playoff).”