Softer than the Charmin.
If you are rating the non-conference schedules of the 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference both individually and collectively, that’s the only conclusion you can come to. That’s especially true when you consider 13 of the 14 teams in the most powerful football conference in all of college football deem it necessary to schedule a game against a Division IAA opponent. Florida, which hasn’t exactly been the bastion of scheduling integrity over the years – the Gators haven’t played a non-conference Division I opponent out of state since Syracuse in 1991 – is the only SEC team that didn’t schedule a team from D1AA.
There are only 11 SEC games against teams from the Power 5 Group and four of those are traditional rivalries (Florida-FSU; Georgia-Georgia Tech; South Carolina-Clemson and Kentucky-Louisville). The SEC will only go on the road twice against Power 5 schools (Georgia at Georgia Tech; LSU at Syracuse) and there are four neutral site games with teams from the Power 5 (Auburn-Louisville; South Carolina-North Carolina; Alabama-Wisconsin; Texas A&M-Arizona State).
Against non-Power 5 opponents, the SEC will play 45 games, 40 at home, four on the road (Missouri at Arkansas State; Mississippi State; Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee; Vanderbilt at Houston) and one neutral site (Missouri-Brigham Young).
There are those who would argue that the SEC schedule is so tough that it’s imperative to put some cream puffs on the schedule. Gus Malzahn of Auburn says that the SEC – especially the SEC West – is at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to the College Football Playoff because the league schedule is brutal. Yes, it is brutal but that’s not a real excuse to play so many Division I bottom feeders and D1AA teams. It would be sad if an SEC team got left out of the playoff because its strength of schedule was hindered by a soft nonconference schedule. Just ask Baylor from the Big 12 if that can’t happen.
Here is the breakdown of the SEC’s non-conference games:
SEC vs. ACC (7)
Auburn: Louisville (neutral site)
Georgia: at Georgia Tech
LSU: at Syracuse
South Carolina: North Carolina (neutral site), Clemson
SEC vs. Big Ten (1)
Alabama: Wisconsin (neutral site)
SEC vs. Big 12 (2)
SEC vs. Pac-12 (1)
SEC vs. Mountain West (4)
SEC vs. Independents (1)
Missouri: BYU (neutral site)
SEC vs. American Athletic Conference (4)
SEC vs. Conference USA (10)
Alabama: Middle Tennessee State
Florida: Florida Atlantic
Kentucky: Charlotte (only 2 years of football; 1st year Division I)
LSU: Western Kentucky
Mississippi State: at Southern Miss; Louisiana Tech
Tennessee: North Texas
Vanderbilt: Western Kentucky; at Middle Tennessee State
SEC vs. Mid-American Conference (4)
SEC vs. Sun Belt Conference (9)
Florida: New Mexico State
Georgia: Louisiana Monroe, Georgia Southern
Mississippi State: Troy
Missouri: at Arkansas State
Ole Miss: New Mexico State
SEC vs. D1AA (13)
Alabama: Charleston Southern
Auburn: Jacksonville State
Kentucky: Eastern Kentucky
LSU: McNeese State
Mississippi State: Northwestern State
Missouri: Southeast Missouri State
Ole Miss: Tennessee Martin
South Carolina: Citadel
Tennessee: Western Carolina
Texas A&M: Western Carolina
Vanderbilt: Austin Peay
SEC vs. Non-Conference Preseason Top 40 (Phil Steele)
Alabama: #13 Wisconsin
Arkansas: #35 Toledo
Auburn: #37 Louisville
Florida: #8 Florida State
Georgia: #30 Georgia Tech
Kentucky: #37 Louisville
South Carolina: #17 Clemson
Tennessee: #18 Oklahoma
Texas A&M: #29 Arizona State
Florida 31, Florida State 31; November 26, 1994
For three quarters, Steve Spurrier owned the Seminoles, who had no answer for Florida’s four- and five-receiver sets. Throw in a Florida defense that forced two critical turnovers (fumble and interception) by Danny Kannell and the Gators entered the fourth quarter with a 31-3 lead. That’s when Spurrier elected to play the clock instead of continuing to riddle the FSU defense and UF defensive coordinator went brain dead. Rather than stick with the game plan that FSU couldn’t answer, Spurrier went conservative in the fourth quarter and FSU got stops. “If Spurrier had stuck to his guys, they probably would have scored 60,” FSU corner Neal Colzie said. Pruett went prevent. Remember that old saying: “The only thing a prevent defense does is prevent winning”? Well, that’s what happened with the Gators in the prevent. FSU converted a fourth and 10 and cut the deficit to 31-10, then three-and-out (all runs) UF offensive series gave the ball back to FSU, which needed only three plays to cut it to 31-17. Florida went three-and-out again and FSU answered to make it 31-24. By this time, Pruett was speechless in the coaches booth (fact, not fiction). Realizing he tried to deep freeze it way too soon, Spurrier tried to get the UF offense going again but FSU was no longer playing on its heels. Colzie intercepted a Danny Wuerffel pass and the Seminoles drove to the UF four where Rock Preston scored to make it 31-30 with 1:45 to go. There was no overtime in these days, but everyone in the stadium – Gator and Seminole alike – knew Bobby Bowden was going for the win and there was nothing Florida could do to stop it. Only Bowden didn’t go for it. Instead, he sent Dan Mowrey out to kick the extra point and the game finished in a tie. The next week, the Gators drove 80 yards in 10 plays with Wuerffel throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Chris Doering on a slant pattern for the game-winner as Florida beat Alabama, 24-23, in the first SEC Championship Game ever played in the Georgia Dome. Had the Gators beaten FSU the week before, Florida almost certainly would have been matched up with Nebraska for the national championship, but the tie combined with the loss to Auburn back in October when UF was ranked #1 nationally knocked the Gators out of any national title consideration. Florida and FSU were rematched in the Sugar Bowl with FSU taking a 23-17 win. The Gators finished the season 10-2-1 and ranked #8 nationally.
1. Arkansas: The Ground Hog attack has the nation’s best offensive line leading the way, some offensive tweaks that will make the offense more pass friendly and a defensive coordinator who will be someone’s head coach in 2016 in Robb Smith.
3. Arizona: This is Rich Rod’s fourth year in Tucson and it’s all his recruits. He’s got the QB he loves in Anu Solomon and the nation’s best linebacker in Scooby Wright. These guys beat Oregon in Eugene last year.
4. Missouri: Missouri has won as many games (23) the last two years as Alabama. There is every good reason to believe Gary Pinkel will put the Tigers in Atlanta for a third straight year.
5. Houston: The Cougars have a new coach in Tom Herman (former Ohio State OC), 17 returning starters and a schedule that is conducive to run the table if they can get past Louisville in game two.
1. Stanford: A lot of folks on the west coast say the talent level has dropped significantly now that all of Harbaugh’s recruits are gone.
2. Tennessee: Everybody in Knoxville is turning cartwheels over last year’s 7-6. The Vols could be 2-5 on October 25.
3. Georgia: It goes without saying that Georgia will lose at least one game (see Florida, 2014) that is has no business losing. Alabama is also on the schedule.
4. Southern Cal: The Trojans can score on anybody. The questions are all on the defensive side. They face Arizona, Oregon and UCLA in November.
5. Clemson: Everybody raves about quarterback Deshaun Watson, but he doesn’t have Chad Morris calling the plays for him anymore.
CBSSports.com is reporting that the NFL and NFL Players Association are engaged in talks to settle Tom Brady’s appeal of a four-game suspension handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell. Expect the league to cave and halve the suspension to two games. Had the NFL acted promptly – it’s been six months since the appeal was filed – this case could have already gone to court or settled. With the start of the season seven weeks away, Goodell and the league aren’t going to let the bad publicity spill over into September and October.
Since the All-Star Game leading up to Sunday’s Hall of Fame enshrinement in Cooperstown for John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Craig Biggio, there has been a lot of talk nationwide about the possibility of forgiving Pete Rose. Tom Jackson of the Tampa Tribune just says no. Writes Jackson:
“Another Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony has come and gone, and again Pete Rose’s name has not been called. Again, former players whose achievements pale by comparison have been enshrined. And again, fans have called for an end to the injustice.
All of this — the celebration bereft of the all-time hit king; the honoring of lesser players; the rending of officially licensed garments by civilians — is precisely as it should be. Because Rose is where he should be: permanently banished, on the outside looking in.”
Donnie Tyndall can forget a return gig to college basketball. Among the allegations the NCAA has leveled at Southern Miss include fraudulent academic credits and obstructing an NCAA investigation. Tyndall was fired with cause after one year on the job at Tennessee for the sins he committed during a three-year run at Southern Miss.
Within the next two or three years, expect San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon to become the first female head coach in the NBA. Hammon is a full-time assistant for Greg Popovich, who raves about her abilities, and she’s coming off a most impressive run coaching the Spurs summer league team to the Las Vegas championship.
The Chik-fil-A Kickoff game to start the 2017 season will pay Alabama and FSU $5 million each.
Attorneys for both sides have agreed to a tentative trial date of April 3, 2017 in the civil lawsuit of Erica Kinsman vs. Jameis Winston. Deadline for discovery is October 2016 with a mediation deadline of December 2, 2016. Kinsman has also filed suit against FSU claiming the school didn’t follow the gender equity provisions of Title IX in the way it handled her rape allegations against Winston.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. When the media picked its preseason All-ACC team, Miami got shut out completely. This year’s Miami team may be the most devoid of talent since the pre-Howard Schnellenberger days.
Should the SEC stop scheduling teams from Division IAA?
For approximately eight years, The Little River Band was about as good as it gets. Four straight albums connected with the American market – two gold and two platinum – and they packed arenas with outstanding live performances. When Glen Shorrock left the band for about five years (1982-87) and John Farnham took over vocals things were never the same. This is the band’s live concert from Houston in 1981 as part of their Live Exposure tour that touted their “Time Exposure” album.