Jimmy’s blog: SEC needs to explain scheduling decisions

By Jimmy Hyams

The SEC wasn’t happy when NCAA President Mark Emmert canceled the NCAA basketball tournament in March without prior notice.

The SEC wasn’t happy when the Big Ten announced a conference-only football schedule, then canceled its fall season.

The SEC hasn’t happy with the lack of communication and transparency from the NCAA and other Power 5 conferences.

That’s what makes the SEC football schedule decision of adding two conference games so baffling.

There was apparently little communication with SEC athletic directors, no communication with SEC football coaches and a lack of transparency.

No wonder the SEC football coaches conference call with the SEC office last Thursday was “contentious,’’ as reported by Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

Many coaches – communicating amongst themselves – thought the SEC would simply add the next two crossover opponents on the 2021 and 2022 schedules.

That didn’t happen – except on two occasions. Georgia and Mississippi State are playing their two crossover opponents for the next two years.

Four teams have no future crossovers opponents on the schedule: Alabama, Tennessee, LSU and Missouri.

Eight teams have one future crossover foe.

The SEC, interesting, released the schedule Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern time, when the news cycle is typically slow.

Wonder why.

And the SEC has still not held a press conference – 10 days later – to explain its “formula’’ for adding the two SEC teams to each schedule.

There was this statement from Commissioner Greg Sankey: `’We made every effort to create a schedule that is as competitive as possible and builds on the existing eight Conference games that had already been scheduled for 2020. This schedule is a one-year anomaly that we have developed under unique circumstances presented by the impact of COVID-19.”

So was the goal to balance the 10-game schedule?

Or was it to protect the better teams in the SEC in hopes of getting two teams in the College Football Playoff?

SEC coaches apparently asked last week what the formula was.

They apparently didn’t get an answer.

Neither has the public.

So why not just add the two future crossover games?

You can bet Alabama didn’t want it because the Tide would have added Florida, forcing Nick Saban to face the two best teams in the East – and the third best, if you buy projections that Tennessee is a Top 25 caliber team.

And poor ole Arkansas. The Hogs would have played Georgia and South Carolina if future crossovers was the method. Instead, coach Sam Pittman got Georgia and Florida.

And Missouri, which was going to face Texas A&M and Auburn, got LSU and Alabama.

Tennessee would have preferred adding Ole Miss and LSU. Instead, the Vols got Auburn and Texas A&M, which have two of the top five returning quarterbacks in the league.

It will be interesting to see what the next schedule – to be released today – will look like.

You can bet there will be plenty of mumbling and grumbling, especially if the SEC doesn’t explain its reasoning in a transparent manner.

Also, a source told me the SEC is going to stay with teams playing the 2021 crossover, as was previously scheduled. That means UT will play Ole Miss from the West in 2021.

It also means Arkansas gets Georgia two years in a row.

You think Arkansas – or Tennessee or Florida – is happy about that? Not only does that make the path easier for Georgia, Florida takes on Alabama next year. Ouch.

Interesting, of the six SEC teams picked in the coaches’ preseason poll to rank among the nation’s top 13, Arkansas plays all six, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee play five, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, LSU Mississippi State, Missouri, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt play four each. Georgia and Florida play only three.

It seemed the simplest way to set the schedule was to just play the two future crossover teams on your schedule.

That could have created some imbalance, considering Florida would have had Alabama and Texas A&M and Georgia would have had Arkansas and Mississippi State.

It’s not an easy task.

Still, the SEC should have done a better job of communication and transparency with its scheduling.

It’s not too late.

Sponsored by Big Kahuna Wings: The wings that changed it all