Archived Story

Scheduling bias happens, so deal with it

Published 9:59am Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SEC intra-feuding is certainly nothing new. With rivalries like the Georgia against South Carolina, Ole Miss versus Miss. State and the Iron Bowl, it can get a little testy.
Verbal jabs are landed, whiskey bottles are thrown and trees are poisoned pretty routinely in this conference.
Generally, though, those types of games are played between white lines or the fan bases.
It is a little more rare to have coaches publicly sparring (even if privately they are at odds with one another).
At last week’s SEC Media Days, though, LSU coach Les Miles fired a mini-torpedo at the U.S.S. Saban when Miles addressed (his perceived) conference-scheduling inequities.
Miles’ take is that LSU has a much steeper hill to climb in the conference than Alabama in 2013.
You know what? He is right.
After all, LSU has to play Florida and Georgia in their cross-divisional games, while the Tide takes on Kentucky and Tennessee.
Alabama’s getting two of the SEC East’s cellar-dwellers while LSU draws two potential top-5 teams is definitely unfair.
It’s blatantly skewed and a miscarriage of justice.
It’s also life and the luck of the draw. The SEC (and slates around the entire country) is filled with scheduling advantages and disadvantages every year.
In 2010, Alabama took on six teams that had byes before they faced Alabama. Six.
That means six teams had an extra week to prepare for the Tide.
Is it just coincidence that 2010 is the one year of the last four Alabama did not win 12 games or a national championship (they finished 10-3)?
If Coach Miles wants to dig deeper, he’ll find inequities littered throughout the SEC in many areas.
For instance, I think it is unfair that some teams play in a state that has no other true football power.
Like, say, LSU, for example. Alabama and Louisiana have roughly the same population numbers yet ‘Bama and Auburn must fight for in-state stars like cats and … elephants (Shut up. I am running low on analogies these days)?
Is it equitable that LSU gets an entire state to apply pressure to a homegrown kid when UA and AU have to battle “mixed-loyalty” households?
Is it fair that UK is located in a state that puts out about one or two five-star recruits every four to five years?
Especially when the teams of Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M are housed in states that put out MULTIPLE five stars every single recruiting cycle?
For that matter, Les, is it fair that Louisiana has arguably the two best recruits in the country this year?
Granted, neither may go to LSU, but the Bengal Tigers sure start out with an inherent advantage.
How about financial difference? Texas A&M has enough money to choke a Jurassic goat.
Does that mean the Aggies should distribute the wealth in order to be, you know, fair?
The facts are that conference schedule strengths are cyclical.
Between 1992-2002, playing South Carolina every year wasn’t such a big deal, but playing Tennessee was (and Alabama did just that).
From 2000-2006, SEC East teams that drew Alabama had to feel pretty stout with names like Franchione, DuBose, Price and Shula running the show, right?
Florida under Zook? Not so good. Florida under Meyer? Much tougher.
The only part of the schedule a team can control is the non-conference slate.
Since 2007, the Tide has taken on Florida State, Penn State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Michigan with Michigan State, West Virginia and Va. Tech (again) coming up.
I would say that the Tide has done its fair share of making the schedule more arduous.
I’ll even give kudos to Les’ crew in that regard. LSU has not shied from big match ups in recent years, and I love that.
The only true way to make a conference schedule totally fair is for the games to be played home and away against every team with no injuries and perfect weather … with referees with perfect eyesight … in a bubble.
Scheduling has its built-in biases on an annual basis.
It always has and always will. Let’s just all deal with that, OK?
Robinson is a sports columnist for The Outlook.

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