The SEC announced a 10-game conference-only schedule last Thursday and a debate quickly ensued.
The question: Would you rather have 10 “good’’ conference games or a 12-game schedule with eight conference games and three or four duds?
Some prefer the 10-game SEC schedule over a 12-game schedule with some cupcake “buy’’ games.
Given a choice between those two options (and only those two) I prefer the eight-game SEC schedule with several quality non-conference games like LSU-Texas and Tennessee-Oklahoma and Alabama-USC and Georgia-Virginia and Auburn-North Carolina.
Because the premise that you get 10 “good’’ games if its SEC only is a fallacy.
Last season, LSU won six SEC games by at least 21 points, including wins by 50-7 and 56-20.
Alabama won six games by at least 21 points, including wins by 48-7 and 38-7.
Vanderbilt lost five SEC games by at least 25 points.
South Carolina lost four SEC games by at least 20 points.
Arkansas lost four SEC games by at least 30 points, including blowout defeats of 51-10, 48-7, 54-24 and 56-20.
SEC games had scores of 56-0, 50-7, 48-7, 56-20, 51-10, 34-3, 30-6, 37-10, 27-0.
No matter how you slice it, those are not “good’’ games.
Last season, at least 30 SEC v. SEC games were decided by at least 20 points.
Now, would I like to see the SEC play a 10-game SEC schedule each year?
Yes. But I know that doesn’t guarantee each game will be competitive.
And know this: Last year, the SEC had three teams that were 2-6 or worse in SEC play. In 2018, it had three more. In 2017, three SEC teams won one or fewer league games. In 2015, five SEC teams were 2-6 or worse in SEC play.
Only once in the past decade has the SEC had just two teams that were 2-6 or worse in league play.
The point: The SEC, like any other league, always has some bad teams.
I’m also not hung up on the SEC needing to play Power 5 opponents for non-conference games.
There are plenty of Power 5 teams that stink. Last year, 13 Power 5 teams were 4-8 or worse and 12 won two or fewer conference games.
So what if you beat Rutgers or Kansas or Georgia Tech last year.
If I were on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, I would be more impressed if you beat 13-1 Appalachian State or 12-2 Boise State or 11-2 Memphis or 11-2 Navy or 11-2 Air Force or 11-3 Cincinnati or 10-3 Central Florida.
Fifteen Group of 5 schools won at least nine games last year; 13 won at least 10.
Any of those teams were better last year than Georgia Tech or Kansas or Maryland or Northwestern or Rutgers or Vanderbilt or Arkansas.
So when it comes to the SEC’s non-conference schedule, I don’t care if you play a Power 5 team or not.
I care if you played a decent opponent.
And that opponent could come from the Group of 5.