Alabama Football: Too many teams are afraid of competition

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

If anything good came out of college football’s schedule adjustments because of COVID, it was the 10-game SEC schedule. Alabama football fans loved it. So did fans of many other schools.

While fans enjoyed more meaningful games rather than a typical season blemished by every team’s guaranteed games, many coaches did not.

College football is evolving and no part of it is poised for more change than the SEC. A 16-team league (and maybe more teams later) requires a new scheduling format. Going into this week’s SEC spring meeting it appeared Greg Sankey’s preferred 9-game format would be approved. The format would be split with three annual SEC opponents and six rotating opponents.

The alternative is a 1-7 format that binds the SEC to an outdated 8-game SEC schedule. The 3-6 model may prevail, but if it does so it will be over the objections of some SEC programs.

Alabama Football coach Nick Saban knows best

What is an inconvenient memory for some is that Nick Saban has long been in favor of a 10-game SEC schedule. In addition, Saban has many times stated that FBS programs should only play FBS programs.

Saban is correct on both counts and any coach, AD (or FBS conference) that disagrees is simply afraid of stiffer competition.

Coaches explain their opposition to increasing the number of SEC games with different excuses. They all come down to increased chances of losses and reduced chances for wins. Kentucky does not want a 9-game schedule. Its primary excuse is wanting to maintain its annual game with Louisville. Nothing in a 9-game or even 10-game SEC schedule would keep the Wildcats from playing the Cardinals.

Instead of seeing through the weak Kentucky argument, it appears other programs agree. According to The Athletic, Mississippi State and Arkansas support the Kentucky objection. Auburn’s Bryan Harsin claiming to have no preference earns the prize for the dumbest response. Will Auburn abstain when the vote occurs?

The underlying concern for some coaches and their ADs is job security. Some SEC programs need every win they can manufacture. That is the primary motivation behind games against FCS programs. Jimbo Fisher argued this week that every SEC team should play “at least one FCS team” every season. Fisher correctly said the FCS schools need the money. If that is his only concern, maybe some of his salary should be donated to an FCS program.

Fear of competition is not restricted to the SEC. Obstruction by the Pac 12 and the ACC to the 12-team Playoff proposal was the same. Demanding automatic Playoff bids for Power Five conference champions is driven by a fear of not being able to compete.

In fairness to Vanderbilt, the Commodores will be hurt by a 9-game schedule. That is an unfortunate reality. A longer-term solution for Vandy and maybe other SEC schools is to exit the SEC.

dark. Next. NIL will not bring down Saban

What about splitting Power Five college football into two groups, those afraid of competition and those not? The forty or so programs that are not afraid could align to control their own destiny – and award the only legitimate National Champion.