Steve Spurrier is set to propose a relatively radical bylaw change this week at the SEC’s spring meetings. Spurrier will argue that the conference should change the way in which it selects its division champions, and, in doing so, argue that not all SEC games are created equal.
And while it does seem rather self serving, Spurrier does have a point in that a team which goes undefeated in its division (say like his 2011 South Carolina team) can still lose its division if another team (say Georgia’s 2011 SEC East championship team) has one less conference loss. That’s not an injustice – it's just math.
He is correct in pointing that out, but that’s not the way the bylaws work, and changing them now to correct the supposed “wrong” that was South Carolina not winning the 2011 SEC East is a waste of time… it won’t pass, and it shouldn’t.
Why? There are a few reasons.
To say that South Carolina’s interdivisional game with Auburn, which it lost at home, is less important than Georgia’s interdivisional game with Auburn, which it won at home is wrong.
And that’s pretty much what he’s saying – and he’s pretty much wrong.
Sure, division games are more important because they serve as the tiebreaker. The only problem is that you have to actually be tied in order to use a tiebreaker.
An SEC game is an SEC game – at least that’s what more than 75 years of SEC history and TV contracts dictate these days. TV contracts, after all, are the reason the SEC is so big… because it’s the SEC… not the SEC East or the SEC West.
What’s fair is fair; and the bylaws are in place for a reason. A division champion must be determined based on all SEC games played in a year because the SEC plays interdivisional games. Its that simple.
Perhaps Spurrier should suggest the 14-team conference only play divisional games. That would be six SEC games a year for each school. But, gasp, what would TV say about that? Watch as the division-only format begins and the revenue goes away thanks to the new six-game SEC schedule.
Then there is the thought that interdivisional games would only count as a half a game in the division. So now games are half games? I’m lost. Are we playing a second half?
This seems difficult.
Also, what Georgia or Auburn fan (or Tennessee or Alabama fan for that matter) would tell you that their game with the other only matters half as much as the annual slugfest with Vanderbilt or Mississippi State?
Spurrier’s argument sounds wrong, and feels wrong because it is wrong. If the shoe were on the other foot Spurrier wouldn’t be crowing about this bylaw change at all… he’d have rings made up for his championship team.