Scheduling doesn’t go LSU’s way
DESTIN, Fla. — Maybe LSU is saving up its wins for this coming football season.
That would be good, because it certainly left here with a defeat.
People are still making jokes — some of them probably poolside at the Sandestin Hilton during this week’s Southeastern Conference Spring Meeting — about LSU being unable to finish across the 50 against Alabama in January’s BCS national championship game.
The 50 would have been nice territory for LSU to reach when it came to its effort to push back against permanent cross-divisional football opponents.
LSU Chancellor Mike Martin said the vote for the new 6-1-1 football scheduling format — one that retains permanent opponents and keeps LSU playing Florida every year for the foreseeable future — was 10-3 among the presidents and chancellors. Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton (whom Martin considered an ally in the fight against 6-1-1) was unable to attend the meeting.
Deaton’s vote wouldn’t have mattered. LSU never had a chance in this election. Too many schools — including LSU’s permanent opponent, Florida — were all too happy to maintain the status quo. They voted for traditional rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia, rivalries that have marked the SEC since back when Tulane and Georgia Tech were still in the conference.
To be fair, LSU-Florida has become pretty traditional itself. The Tigers and Gators have tangled every year since 1971. LSU tried, and failed, to beat Steve Spurrier in three tries when he quarterbacked Florida from 1964-66.
The Tigers needed a late field goal to get past the Gators 10-7 en route to the 1958 national title, one of their closest games that season.
But it is more important to foster competitive balance, which the 6-1-1 format does not. It results in the Tigers having to face the other three schools (Alabama and Auburn out of the SEC West in addition to Florida) that have won BCS titles in the SEC’s six-year reign of championships every season.
There may eventually be some good news for LSU on the scheduling front.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive indicated the conference would likely take another look at how the football schedule format is working three or four years out — say after the 2015 or 2016 season.
And there is also the strong possibility — one vocalized by NCAA President and former LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert himself — that BCS schools will continue to shift conferences to best position themselves for the four-team BCS “Final Four.” That means the SEC probably will not be staying at 14 members for very long.
And the next round of expansion could well result in a divisional realignment.
Until then, the Tigers will have to get through the best they can, and hope that Florida’s 7-6 record last season was more then new norm than an aberration.