Miles: No permanent foes
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 1:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 8:57 p.m.
It was discussed in Destin at the SEC spring meetings and again in Hoover, Ala., during SEC Media Days. But Les Miles isn’t going to let it die.
The SEC's cross-division opponents for 2013 (permanent opponent in CAPS):
Alabama — At Kentucky, TENNESSEE.
Arkansas — At Florida, SOUTH CAROLINA.
Auburn — At Tennessee, GEORGIA.
Florida — Arkansas, At LSU.
Georgia — LSU, At AUBURN.
Kentucky — Alabama, At MISSISSIPPI STATE.
LSU — At Georgia, FLORIDA.
Ole Miss — At VANDERBILT, Missouri.
Mississippi State — KENTUCKY, At South Carolina.
Missouri — At Ole Miss, TEXAS A&M.
South Carolina — At ARKANSAS, Mississippi State.
Tennessee — At ALABAMA, Auburn.
Texas A&M — Vanderbilt, At MISSOURI.
Vanderbilt — OLE MISS, At Texas A&M.
The LSU football coach volunteered his feelings about permanent cross-division games during the league’s spring conference call on Wednesday.
“It’s interesting to see how you would compare our schedule with others,” Miles said. “I wonder if there should be no permanent (scheduling) partners (in the SEC).”
Miles went as far as to say that he wondered if it would be better to have a computer pick the two cross-division opponent “by random draw.”
LSU’s two East opponents this year are Florida at home and Georgia on the road. Alabama, by contrast, faces Kentucky and Tennessee. Those two teams won only one conference game a year ago when Tennessee beat Kentucky and are both breaking in new coaches.
With its eight-game conference schedule and expansion to 14 teams in 2012, the SEC requires six games be played within the division of each team with one permanent opponent from the other division and one rotating opponent from the other division.
Because of expansion, the rotations were disrupted last season. Florida, for example, lost a return trip from Auburn. Alabama will make it two seasons in a row without playing Florida, Georgia or South Carolina in the conference season (although it did face Georgia in the conference title game last year).
Georgia has missed out on LSU and Alabama the last two seasons, but plays host to the Tigers this year.
“The huge key for any conference,” Miles said, “is equal access to the championship.”
But despite getting what appears to be a benefit from this year’s SEC schedule, Alabama coach Nick Saban is not a fan of the permanent crossovers, which are expected to stay in place at least through next season.
“We got a lot of people in the SEC office who are trying to do what’s best for the league,” Saban said. “My basic theory is that every player should have the opportunity to play every SEC school once. If we don’t have a two-team rotation, that doesn’t happen.
“I think it makes it more league-oriented when you play more cross-division games.”
One reason for the permanent opponents is the long-standing rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee that could be lost to a two-team rotation. Another is television, which wants games such as Florida-LSU in October.
“I know Florida-LSU is good for our conference,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “We’ve exhausted this pretty good. But I totally understand what Les is saying.”
One way to increase the number of cross-division games would be to go to nine games in the conference season. Muschamp said he is not in favor of that because of Florida’s annual game with Florida State. Steve Spurrier agreed.
“It wouldn’t be good for us and Florida and Georgia because we play our in-state rivals,” Spurrier said. “If we wanted to be fair, we wouldn’t have permanent crossover opponents. It’s not fair for Tennessee to have to play Alabama every year.
“But nobody said it’s supposed to be fair.”