Mike Strange: SEC should have added a ninth football game

Mike Strange

When you have the best conference in America, more is better.

That's why the SEC stumbled when it balked at adding a ninth conference game to the football schedule last week at the spring meetings.

The league that has assembled an incredible streak of six consecutive BCS championships is expanding from 12 to 14 teams. The schedule is standing pat.

The result: a watered-down experience for the nation's most passionate fans.

With 13 potential opponents and only eight games, the math isn't good. Neither is the national perception.

The SEC makes a lot of noise about being the biggest, baddest kid on the college football block. And it is.

So why not get in step with the other leagues that play big-boy football?

The Atlantic Coast Conference is expanding from 12 to 14 teams and adding a ninth league games when Syracuse and Pitt arrive.

The Big 12, a misnamed 10-team operation, plays a nine-game, true round-robin schedule.

The equally misnamed Big Ten planned to expand from eight to nine games as a 12-team league but came up with an interesting alternative. By 2017, each member will play an annual game against a team from its Rose Bowl BFF, the Pac 12.

The Pac 12 already plays nine league games.

What the Big East does or will do is irrelevant.

The expanded SEC will stand at eight, thank you.

The familiar defense from the coaches and most of the ADs doesn't wash, that the SEC is so brutal another game would decrease the chances of winning a national title. Better to spend an afternoon grinding Western Kentucky into sawdust.

I recall a similar protest in 1992 when the league expanded to 12 teams, added an eighth regular-season game and, horrors, tacked on a championship game.

What followed instead was three national titles in the 1990s and seven more since 2003.

Here's what adding a ninth game would have accomplished:

One less irrelevant romp to sit through.

Whom would you rather open your billfold to watch play in Neyland Stadium, Auburn or Akron? Texas A&M or Troy?

Nothing wrong with an occasional frolic with the Sun Belt or Conference USA. You can't play Notre Dame ever week.

But the SEC has scheduled 15 FCS (Division I-AA) opponents for 2012, more than any other BCS league. The Big Ten will play only six.

A stronger inventory for TV. Which game do you want to watch on your flat screen, Florida-Arkansas or Florida-Central Arkansas?

If an SEC network comes to fruition, it should be a motivator for change.

Maintaining traditional ties.

Alabama stays an annual opponent for Tennessee, but the rest of the West will become virtual strangers.

Instead of playing LSU every four years, it will be every six years. In theory, it could be 2029 before the Vols play their first SEC game at Texas A&M.

I understand the attachment to the UT-Alabama tradition. But isn't playing your fellow conference members on something approaching a regular basis a tradition, too? It used to be.

Let's play nine. It's the right thing for the best league to do.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange

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Comments » 80

born2ride writes:

Dooley has only beaten 3 SEC team - Vandy, UK and Ole Miss - the worst teams in the SEC. Adding a 9th SEC game would be another loss for UT.

lomas98 writes:

An argument I have heard to nine games is it would cut down on non conference high profile games. If all of the other conferences are doing it, they won't want to add a non conference sec game anyway. Ohio st. Already dropped the ga series. It is a shame that teams will not visit other campuses for such a long time.

Mark richt was against the 9 games because he said ga, sc, Florida, all play their traditional in state rival games out of conference and that would be 10 of their games. he makes a good point I guess. Tennessee's rivals are all conference games anyway so we don't have to worry about that angle. I would prefer the 9 game schedule, still schedule a decent non conference game that tn has historically done, and then schedule a couple of cupcakes. It will be nice to have the talent to compete against anyone again.

RoadTrip writes:

The Liar Surfer Dude's team will play 11 BCS games. Most SEC schools will end up with 9 (8+1). Guess who gets the playoff berth if it comes down to the same record? Yep. How excited are you to shell out bucks for games against GA State and Akron? Will you even go?

They obviously plan to go to 16 teams in a few years, but that is then and now is now. Mike Strange is right.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say more football? Witch Doctor well yes.. duh.
Bones never lie.

chattabluetick writes:

Play 9 and rotate every year . For instance: 2013 Ala.-away, Aub.-home & Ark.-away. 2016 Ala.-home,Aub.-away & Ark.-home. 2014 Ala.-home, LSU-away & Miss St.-home. 2017 Ala.-away, LSU-home & Miss St.-away. 2015 Ala.-away, Tex. A&M-home & Ole Miss-away. 2018 Ala.-home, Tex. A&M-away & Ole Miss.-home. This way you would play every team in rotation within 3 years and play Bama every year plus the # of home and away games would change each year and teams would not be able to dodge good teams for very long. 9 games is the only way to be fair to all teams in S.E.C.

tovolny writes:

Mike, I agree with most of what you said. You do a fantastic job of relating UT and SEC concerns without trashing up the joint like ole Long John. THANKS!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

First 2 posts were from..........you guessed it.........trolls. Punk/kid and born to lose.

Dooley wins over these 2 trolls once again.

woodwr#217203 writes:

BCS-AQ conference teams should play one each of the other BCS-AQ conferences.

Every SEC team should play one or two Big-10 Big-12 & Big East or ACC or Pac-12 teams every year.

Schedules can be eight-nine conference games, but filling up on double-A or A& a half school should be punished.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Agree Mike. I would much rather see another SEC game than Northeastern Bumf**k Tech.

If not a 9th ocnference game, then how about everybody have a cross-divisional rival and a BCS non-conference annual rivalry? UT could go with an ACC annual rivalry. An obvious geographic choice would be North Carolina.

volposter writes:

in response to woodwr#217203:

BCS-AQ conference teams should play one each of the other BCS-AQ conferences.

Every SEC team should play one or two Big-10 Big-12 & Big East or ACC or Pac-12 teams every year.

Schedules can be eight-nine conference games, but filling up on double-A or A& a half school should be punished.

Go back to the olde rule that wins against lower division schools do not count toward bowl game eligibility

Should be 9 conference games. Anything else is an insult to the fans of the SEC, especially those who pay big bucks to see the games. Hate to be one upped by the ACC and the other conferences.

wmh92264#529898 writes:

The way SEC teams now play non-conference games against junior high school caliber opponents is an embarassment to the conference. Stop scheduling the pushovers and at least play non-conference games against mediocre opponents.

thevoice writes:

I'm in favor of playing only the teams in your division once, the winners of each division playing each other in the SEC CG, and playing the other 6 games against national foes, with a pansy or 2 mixed in.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

KNS you have allowed trolls like greatest/gomer and packer park aka Ears to ruin this site

thevoice writes:

in response to VolFanInTheBoro:

KNS you have allowed trolls like greatest/gomer and packer park aka Ears to ruin this site

The only reason they're here is because folks keep responding to them.

VolMan126 writes:

If you go back and look at schedules over the past 20 years you will find that UT has played some big name schools at home and away. ND,Miami,Fresno State(when they were good)Cal,Ucla just to name a few. Next witness...GO VOLS!

VolMan126 writes:

I also attended the oline and dline camp Sat with my son. We have hit a home run with Coach Sal. He is high energy and the kids seem to like him. He is a hands on teacher in every aspect of the D like Chief was!Should be fun to watch...GO VOLS!

lomas98 writes:

in response to TennesseeTonyT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That comment just sums up the state of our football program since 2008. Why didn't you just say why don't TN just leave the SEC and join the big east?

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to VolFanInTheBoro:

KNS you have allowed trolls like greatest/gomer and packer park aka Ears to ruin this site

Witch Doctor said it before KNS either wants you to switch to the pay site or stick a 10" ice pick in your nose and swirl it around on this one! lol.
Bones never lie.
*makes me NEVER want to pay.

Vo2Vol writes:

in response to collegegrovevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Greatest, between you and EARS, there is nothing but puke in your post. You contribute nothing other than negativity, because that is easy. You have no game knowledge, of any sport, so the simple thing is to trash the coach. You seem to be nothing but a big girl with a high regard for yourself.

Razzle writes:

in response to VolFanInTheBoro:

KNS you have allowed trolls like greatest/gomer and packer park aka Ears to ruin this site

Just don't read their garbage. Skip over it.

10cvolnga writes:

Go with 9! The only thing I can see coming from this plan, considering other conferences going to 9, is that the pool of patsies will only increase. Perhaps we can get a crack at a few stronger patsies!

Chappy writes:

in response to collegegrovevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You act like this entire thing is Dooley's decision/fault.

Anything to run him down, huh?

Why don't we blame him for the lousy economy, global warming, and your questionable lineage too (actually that last one may have some merit)?

bbmon13#478091 writes:

Why? Why should the league add a ninth game? For the media?? So they won't be bored watching a game against Troy or Georgia State?

These great media Einstein's just have everything figured out don't they.

What about the other side of the argument? Tenn, in another year in the future, is undefeated and moving towards its final regular season games against Troy, Vandy, and Ky....and this could be Ala, Fla, whoever - but instead of Troy, UT has to play at Texas A&M.

The guys in the media have the luxury of sitting back on the sidelines and criticizing the 'doers' - the coaches and ADs don't have that luxury....they must produce, especially in this league.

Who cares if the Big Ten plays 9 conference games? Heck, they could play 15 and a good team can walk thru that league.

This league is tough enough to win without having to play nine games - it was good enough without adding A&M and Missouri too - but it's too late to change that. Adding TV markets?? Ok, but the ratings for the SEC games of the week were already higher than any other league.

Everyone is chasing the SEC - we don't have to change anything, they do.

Ultimately - who gives a rats *** what the media wants?

SCVFL writes:

in response to Vo2Vol:

Greatest, between you and EARS, there is nothing but puke in your post. You contribute nothing other than negativity, because that is easy. You have no game knowledge, of any sport, so the simple thing is to trash the coach. You seem to be nothing but a big girl with a high regard for yourself.

V2V,
Please quit responding to the trolls. When we acknowledge them it only feeds their egos.If EVERONE would just ignore their existence they would shrivel up and die.
GO BIG RNG...VFL

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to SCVFL:

V2V,
Please quit responding to the trolls. When we acknowledge them it only feeds their egos.If EVERONE would just ignore their existence they would shrivel up and die.
GO BIG RNG...VFL

Witch Doctor say these "trolls" also login in as "Vol" fans to keep it going..not saying Vo2vol is one..but watch and notice how the SAME one or two keep the thing going and going, the gig is about up! lol.
Bones never lie.

TennVolgal writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor said it before KNS either wants you to switch to the pay site or stick a 10" ice pick in your nose and swirl it around on this one! lol.
Bones never lie.
*makes me NEVER want to pay.

LOL!!! Love your responses Witch_Doctors and I concur

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say these "trolls" also login in as "Vol" fans to keep it going..not saying Vo2vol is one..but watch and notice how the SAME one or two keep the thing going and going, the gig is about up! lol.
Bones never lie.

* and its NOT Gerryop or Bivolar or the regulars.

SCVFL writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say these "trolls" also login in as "Vol" fans to keep it going..not saying Vo2vol is one..but watch and notice how the SAME one or two keep the thing going and going, the gig is about up! lol.
Bones never lie.

Doc,
Not saying Vo2Vol is a troll...Just saying if we would all just ignore the trolls with their completely negative, irrelavent comments, their tiny egos would be destroyed and they would soon shrivel up and die.
If a comment is just a rant about the coaching and nothing to do with the article, just skip on to the next one.
I am not saying that posters can't disagree that is what makes most comments worth reading.
GO BIG RNG....VFL!!!

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say these "trolls" also login in as "Vol" fans to keep it going..not saying Vo2vol is one..but watch and notice how the SAME one or two keep the thing going and going, the gig is about up! lol.
Bones never lie.

Witchy I agree but the latest is some have gone to accusing people that have never said one bad thing about the Vol’s and done nothing but support the Team, coaches and players as a troll and even have gone as far as claiming they have other screen names.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to SCVFL:

Doc,
Not saying Vo2Vol is a troll...Just saying if we would all just ignore the trolls with their completely negative, irrelavent comments, their tiny egos would be destroyed and they would soon shrivel up and die.
If a comment is just a rant about the coaching and nothing to do with the article, just skip on to the next one.
I am not saying that posters can't disagree that is what makes most comments worth reading.
GO BIG RNG....VFL!!!

Witch Doctor agree 100%, Witch Doctor just wanted to point to the source. Witch Doctor say you are right on the money.(I dont know if he is a troll and dont think so, just saying some are)
Bones never lie.

TheVolSnake writes:

I would like to see an extra game added, they could add an extra game from the SEC west. With the new SEC channel would make since of an extra East verse West team nearly every week.

This would also build up the rivalries

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

Witchy I agree but the latest is some have gone to accusing people that have never said one bad thing about the Vol’s and done nothing but support the Team, coaches and players as a troll and even have gone as far as claiming they have other screen names.

Witch Doctor has had several emails with some that have pointed to others, BUT then everything they post is doing nothing BUT springboarding the trolls post and keeps it going. Witch Doctor guess "journalism" and "marketing" are two different worlds as Rucker and Brown really have it all wrong! lol.
Bones never lie.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say also the dogpeter gnats are bad this time of year! lol.
Bones never lie.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor guess subscriptions are tough to sell door to door Witch Doctor guess. hehe. Hi Beth!
Bones never lie.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Razzle:

Just don't read their garbage. Skip over it.

Witch Doctor say it is just and old dried up man looking/needing for attention and a couple young ones trying to sell subscriptions. Witch Doctor say in that light you feel sorry for them. Witch Doctor say have a great day, Witch Doctor heading out in the sunshine!
Bones never lie.

SCVFL writes:

Back on subject...I agree that SEC should have a 9 game schedule...If we are the "big boys" of CFL, then let's play that way. I would much rather see VOLS play A&M as opposed to Troy. One pansy and a bye should be enough rest for the best.
GO BIG RNG...VFL

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to SCVFL:

Back on subject...I agree that SEC should have a 9 game schedule...If we are the "big boys" of CFL, then let's play that way. I would much rather see VOLS play A&M as opposed to Troy. One pansy and a bye should be enough rest for the best.
GO BIG RNG...VFL

I agree and a side benefit is the players would get an extra game, as you are aware at the NFL level on thing that always comes up is the rookies not prepared for the longer season and amount of games. The extra game could help here also.

The question and if this did happen is it would more than likely stop the Bye week. They couldn't start earlier and the SEC isn't going to stop the SEC Championship game. So really the Bye week would be the only option

Vol4EVA writes:

Simply put, I agree. Play 9 games. 6 divisional….1 traditional rival from the other division…. and 2 rotating games from the other division.

All this speculation about it possibly limiting the prospects of the SEC playing for the National Championship is simply that...unsubstantiated speculation. Line'em and play'em. Then let the conference champion go and beat the "heck" out of whoever wants some...

Go Big Orange!....I'll hang up and listen to your comments...

SCVFL writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

I agree and a side benefit is the players would get an extra game, as you are aware at the NFL level on thing that always comes up is the rookies not prepared for the longer season and amount of games. The extra game could help here also.

The question and if this did happen is it would more than likely stop the Bye week. They couldn't start earlier and the SEC isn't going to stop the SEC Championship game. So really the Bye week would be the only option

Snake,
I was not referring to lengthening the season. I meant 6 SEC East division games, 3 SEC West games (1 rival game, 2 rotating) for 9 SEC games. Then you still have 2 out of conference games and a BYE week.
GO BIG RNG...VFL

MilitaryBrat writes:

in response to collegegrovevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Everything you just posted is either lying or something only you and your buddies believe.

"We Don't slam players" - last year there was major criticism by you guys about Bray, Rogers, and Janzen, and other players.

"we never get personal" - you are constantly posting childish insults, to everyone who criticizes you. Sound personal to me.

"Demand Total Obedience" - No Body on here is 100% behind Dooley. But "Most" feel he has the tools to be competitive this season. It sure is convenient for you to justify your posts, by making up things that people say, and acting like the majority of fans agree with you. When the most fans hope Dooley turns it around. The majority of fans want Dooley to be successful, because that means UT is successful.

And finally the statement the takes the cake:
"Our names are witty and clever".
If you actually believe that, please get help!

But the funniest thing about all of your posts - Is that you can't stand Dooley. Well get used to it, because Dooley will be the head coach for at least 2 more years. And you can't do nothing about it.

arkyvol writes:

anybody taking bets on what year it will be when dooley gets to a winning season in conference?

my pick: the twelfth of never.

Vo2Vol writes:

in response to SCVFL:

Doc,
Not saying Vo2Vol is a troll...Just saying if we would all just ignore the trolls with their completely negative, irrelavent comments, their tiny egos would be destroyed and they would soon shrivel up and die.
If a comment is just a rant about the coaching and nothing to do with the article, just skip on to the next one.
I am not saying that posters can't disagree that is what makes most comments worth reading.
GO BIG RNG....VFL!!!

Guys, I am no troll. I like some of the conversation. However, the continual knock on Coach Dooley and his staff is rediculous. Anybody that has been around sport knows that you cannot compete in our league with 70% of your team being underclassman. You can coach fundamentals and technique, throw out a new gimick play, all day long and they will only grasp what they are capable of grasping. We are not going to fool anybody in this league on a regualar basis. Greatest may be a troll, as you say.

DonK37920 writes:

Agree with the article. I'd much rather replace Troy, Georgia State or Akron with another SEC opponent. These money grab games are an insult to the fans and a gigantic waste of time.

Vo2Vol writes:

in response to collegegrovevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No dilusional here. I know that Coach Dooley needs to win games this year. He also knows it. What is dilusional is that anyone would think that any other coach would have walked in and done better with the situation he inherited and a roster of undersized, inexperienced players. That is not excuses but fact. You will be that guy in the stands that actually hopes we lose to fuel your fire against the coach.

VolGrad writes:

I believe the addition of 2 more teams to make it a 16 team league is inevitable. At that time, we will need to have a 9 game SEC schedule. I guess the thinking is that it will be easier to convert a 6-1-1 format to a 7-1-1 when that happens than to change a 6-1-2 to the 7-1-1.

Go Vols!!!

CoverOrange writes:

You don't need nine if you think outside the box. They could play every team at home every four years.

Dump the divisions.
Designate three rivalries per team
Divide the rest into two groups of 5 that are played in alternating years
Two best records period play in SECCG

Done

Also, the NCAA needs to stop letting FCS teams move up to FBS. In fact, they need to force several to go back.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Agree Mike. I would much rather see another SEC game than Northeastern Bumf**k Tech.

If not a 9th ocnference game, then how about everybody have a cross-divisional rival and a BCS non-conference annual rivalry? UT could go with an ACC annual rivalry. An obvious geographic choice would be North Carolina.

But we almost always lose to the acc teams, you know, like we almost always lose to the SEC teams.

gomer writes:

in response to Vo2Vol:

No dilusional here. I know that Coach Dooley needs to win games this year. He also knows it. What is dilusional is that anyone would think that any other coach would have walked in and done better with the situation he inherited and a roster of undersized, inexperienced players. That is not excuses but fact. You will be that guy in the stands that actually hopes we lose to fuel your fire against the coach.

So you are saying Dooley is the best coach in the country since you say no other coach could have done better...haha...delusional, I hope you and the rest of the Dooley fans follow him wherever he goes here in October when he is fired..

govolsn3 writes:

I will not go to the Troy or Ga. Southern or any other scrimmage game and invest $300 bucks on a saturday to drive up and see that when I can sit at home and watch the first half. Now AUBURN, or MISS ST. or LSU, I will give twice that much to go and sit through the entire game no matter the outcome. Empty seats and NEYLAND are there for a reason, nothing worth watching and there will be plenty of them during the non-conference portion of the schedule.

14th_rated_sec_coach writes:

in response to collegegrovevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Or with the extra game Dooley might get lucky and go 2-7 or 3-6 and do just enough to satisfy these doolusionals and keep his job

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