Kudos to Sports Illustrated's John Walters---link
Contests between schools who do not compete in the same conference are known as "intersectional games," except in the Southeastern Conference, where they are known as "wins." See, SEC teams rarely schedule worthy non-conference foes and even less often do they leave home to play them. Les Miles isn't just an SEC coach; it's an SEC credo. This year the 12 SEC schools will play a total of six intersectional games on the road. They are:
Sept. 1: Vanderbilt at Wake Forest
Sept. 17: Mississippi State at Tulane
Sept. 17: Arkansas at Southern California
Sept. 17: Kentucky at Indiana
Nov. 5 : Tennessee at Notre Dame
Nov. 26 : Georgia at Georgia Tech (though this is actually an annual rivalry)
Kudos to the Hogs and Vols for risking their seasons with a tough road trip. Shame on Auburn, Florida and LSU for playing it safe. Memo to the SEC: This is why you can go undefeated and not play for the national title. We don't want to hear how the SEC is the toughest conference in the nation after it went 3-3 last bowl season.
Memo No. 2 to the SEC: There's this contraption, see. You put people in it and it magically transports them through space. No, not the General Lee. An airplane. Try it sometime.
Walters is the first writer to really step up to the plate on this one and not just timidly nudge the SEC teams. Sometimes bold words are needed, when simple and patient nudges go ignored.
Thanks go to Brian from MGoBlog for the following links, at Braves and Birds (a Georgia blogger)-
Unhappy link one
Unhappy link number two
B&B pulls up each conference's OOC games against top 30 preseason teams. Decent rebuttal, but keep in mind some of these games the SEC makes don't have a home-and-home, it's a one-and-done (LSU/Oregon State last year) or we'll play two situation. Additionally, most OOC games are scheduled three to eight years in advance, which is why we've seen so many summer announcements about games to be played in 2010, 2013, etc. There's guesswork involved in that, and the SEC has been very shrewd in going about that.
We can extrapolate backwards and see that Kentucky taking on Louisville was a great idea at the time, as was LSU/ASU, Arkansas/USC (yes!).
As to the point about travel---it's important! Brian from MGoBlog got grumpy about travel, but look at his team, each time it heads out West its been embarrassed, not just by USC in the Rose Bowl, but in Autzen, etc. That's not to say the West is a difficult road test, only that going on the road against unfamiliar opponents and weather and stadiums tends to give a greater test to elite, contending teams than say, Auburn driving down the road to play Georgia Tech, in the same geographical area, same weather, little travel, familiar stadiums, etc.
Why the defensiveness over scheduling? Scheduling is everything, it gives us a picture of just how good a team is against someone other than common opponents. When a team or conference gerrymanders its OOC games its robbing the fan and the pundit and the voter of the ability to get a better picture of what that team's made of. It becomes crucial when end-of-season polling happens and someone good gets left out of a certain bowl, or championship game. The criticism of the SEC is more than warranted, in this context.
As to the point about why no criticism of the Big Twelve---we'll have some as the season goes along. But keep in mind the Big Twelve doesn't have its butt kissed by the national media, and doesn't self-appoint as the best conference in all the land, no matter the year. If a conference wants that mantle, why does it schedule so weakly? What does it have to hide? Why won't its fans accept legitimate criticism? I hate cliches, but if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, and it applies here.
Think about it, in probably a decade-plus (or in Georgia's case, 40 plus years) of its scheduling scheme, very little mainstream commentary has focused on this aspect of the SEC's rise in public perception. So yes, its seems tired here on our active blog comment sections, or on the various message boards, but in the real world of college football, its simply never been given much consideration. And why would it, when boobs like Craig James and Pete Fiutak simply ignore some of the fundamental issues at work.
The Big Twelve will have its day to get criticized, although we may see some further erosion this season from within that renders making an example of its members less meaningful. They're part of the problem, too (as is the ACC, as members of 12-team bifurcated conferences and the scheduling tricks that inherently come with such a setup).