Big 12 football: How about scheduling alliance with SEC?
The Big 12/SEC announcement last week could lead to many things. A forerunner to a four-team playoff. Anther brick in the formation of super conferences. A nudge to the likes of Notre Dame and Florida State that it’s time to put on your dancing shoes.
Or not. Maybe it has little effect, other than a bowl alliance between the nation’s two best football leagues, with virtually no chance that both of the league champs ever would meet in a bowl game.
But the partnership absolutely could mean this: a scheduling agreement. A challenge series. Mimic what the Pac-12 and Big Ten have done, which is make their virtual marriage even tighter by agreeing to an annual series of games, matching all 12 teams from each league, beginning in 2017.
Why not trump the Big Ten/Pac-12 infatuation? Create a Big 12/SEC scheduling alliance sooner than 2017. It would not be as tidy, since the Big 12 has 10 schools and the SEC 14. Of course, who knows how many schools the Big 12 will end up with. The announcement with the SEC has re-triggered talk of Big 12 expansion, and certainly the announcement has enhanced the Big 12’s stability and reputation. Who knows how expansion will play out, but clearly, the Big 12 is more alluring now than anytime in the last two years.
The bowl announcement is nice. But a regular-season scheduling liason would pack an even bigger punch. The leagues, which always have abutted geographically, now even share a state (Texas). There are old-line rivals – Texas A&M-Texas, Missouri-Kansas, OSU-Arkansas – and cultural rivals, including the likes of OU-Alabama,West Virginia-Kentucky and Baylor-Vanderbilt.
What’s crazy is how rarely the leagues have mixed it up. In 2012, the only scheduled Big 12/SEC game is Texas-Ole Miss.
For instance, OU has played one series with Alabama(2002-03); one series with Kentucky(1980, 1982); and one series with Vanderbilt (1976-77). The Sooners do have future series with Tennessee (2014-15) and LSU (2018-19).
Texas hasn’t played Bama orFlorida in the regular season since World War II. The Longhorns have played one series with Arkansas since the Razorbacks left the Southwest Conference in 1991.Texas has played two series with Auburn since 1925 (1983-84, 1987 and 1991). UT played one series with Georgia (1957-58) and last played a series with LSU in 1954.
OSU has played just four series ever against the SEC: Georgiain 1946-47 and 2007, 2009; Mississippi State in 1970-71 and 1998-99.
You read that right. An SEC foe has come to Stillwater just four times ever and has come to Norman just thrice. That’s ridiculous.
I brought up the idea of a scheduling alliance between the Big 12, the SEC and the ACC a couple of years ago. My idea: two regular-season games a year, with each team playing a foe from each of the other two leagues. That was going to be a tough sell to skittish coaches, but it at least worked logistically. Now, with the SEC and ACC at 14 each, and the Big 12 not likely to get to 14 unless it raids the ACC, that triumvirate likely won’t work. But a Big 12/SEC alliance not only would work, the groundwork has been laid.
A memo from the Big 12, unintended for distribution, brought up the question of mirroring the Big Ten and Pac-12. “Is this an effort to position the Big 12 and the SEC in a manner similar to that of the Big Ten and Pac-12?”
Here was the Big 12’s own response: “We have talked about this matchup for several years. It is in the best interest of our two conferences and creates an outstanding prime-time New Year’s Day matchup that will be one of the postseason’s centerpieces.”
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