“I will try to make the case ... I will make the case for LSU. I think we at least have a shot.” Mike Martin, LSU chancellor
Mike Martin may have announced Friday that he is leaving for Colorado State later this year, but he still has big-ticket items on his agenda as LSU’s chancellor.
One of them is trying to argue LSU’s position in the Southeastern Conference’s soon-to-be announced new 14-team football scheduling format.
While LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Saturday that he believes the SEC will stick with permanent opponents from opposite divisions — something LSU has staunchly opposed — Martin said he will make one more attempt to sway his fellow SEC presidents and chancellors this week at the annual Spring Meeting in Destin, Fla.
“I will try to make the case” for abandoning permanent opponents, Martin said Saturday. “I will make the case for LSU. I think we at least have a shot.”
Martin said he has an ally for eliminating permanent opponents in South Carolina President Harris Pastides. But it is a small band of resistance.
Alleva said 11 of the 14 SEC schools are in favor of retaining permanent opponents — including Florida, the Tigers’ permanent SEC East opponent. LSU has maintained in the past that Florida also wanted to eliminate their annual game.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Alleva said. “I think people have voted in the best interests of their schools and not the league.”
In what from an LSU perspective is a more appealing football scheduling plan, Alleva said he expects that new SEC member and longtime LSU rival Texas A&M will become the Tigers’ season-ending opponent, filling a slot on the Tigers’ schedule that has been occupied by Arkansas since the Razorbacks joined the conference in 1992.
LSU will play at Arkansas to end the season this year and probably next, with the switch likely coming in 2014, Alleva said.
LSU plays at Texas A&M on Oct. 20 this season. Starting in 2014, the Arkansas game will likely occupy a similar midseason slot on the Tigers’ schedule, Alleva said.
“Arkansas will be in the middle somewhere,” he said.
It’s expected that Texas A&M will join LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State in the SEC West, while Missouri will be placed in the SEC East.
The SEC is expected to announce by Friday what will be a 6-1-1 football scheduling format.
A school would play the other six teams from its division, one permanent opponent from the opposite division and another opponent from the other division on a rotating basis.
Before expansion, the SEC used a 5-1-2 format, with two rotating opponents from the opposite division each year.
Officials from A&M and South Carolina have already revealed that their schools will be each other’s permanent opponents, with Arkansas expected to play Missouri on an annual basis.
In addition to LSU-Florida — a series that has been played on an annual basis since 1971 — the permanent-opponent scheduling plan preserves traditional cross-divisional rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia.
LSU’s complaint about permanent opponents is twofold.
One is the potential for competitive imbalance. LSU has to play a perennial SEC power in Florida, a program that has made more SEC Championship Game appearances than any team and joins LSU and Alabama as the only schools to win two BCS national titles.
Conversely, Mississippi State plays Kentucky and Ole Miss plays Vanderbilt each year. Kentucky and Vanderbilt are traditionally near the bottom of the SEC East standings and the only two schools in that division to have never played in the SEC Championship Game.
The other issue is how infrequently a school like LSU would play the other six teams from the SEC East.
Using this season’s temporary scheduling format and LSU’s home game with South Carolina as a guide, the Tigers potentially would play at South Carolina in 2013 and not see the Gamecocks rotate back onto their schedule until 2024.
Alleva said he also expects football coaches to propose that only games in a school’s division count toward that school’s division title.
The idea has been put forward by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, and has the support of LSU’s Les Miles.
“I don’t know how much traction that will have,” Alleva said, “but it will come up.”
Also expected to be major points of discussion are formats for basketball scheduling and a new deal between the newly expanded SEC and its two prime TV partners: CBS and ESPN.
CBS and the SEC in particular have been unable to come to terms on what added value Texas A&M and Missouri bring to the conference in terms of TV royalties.
Alleva said he expects there to be discussion of an SEC TV network as well, which may be part of the deal with ESPN.
“It seems inevitable, but how quickly (an SEC network) will happen, I don’t know,” Alleva said.
The SEC Spring Meeting runs Tuesday through Friday.