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Monday, April 28, 2014
Fair? No such thing in SEC scheduling

By Alex Scarborough


Honestly, Steve Spurrier said, there’s a truth in college football that after six decades in the game he fully acknowledges: It’s not fair.

After discussing the merits of an early signing period -- “I’ve never been for that” -- and the tabled 10-second rule -- “If you don’t like somebody using the no-huddle offense, you should use a no-huddle defense” -- the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks was asked what’s next for the game.

“I don’t know what’s next,” Spurrier told ESPN earlier this spring. “We talked about not having a common opponent, but the commissioner [Mike Slive] wants Alabama and Tennessee to keep playing each other. ... That’s not really fair for LSU or Florida, I don’t think, because they’re annually two of the best in the conference.”

Steve Spurrier
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier sees no easy solution to the issue of equitable schedules in the SEC.
And this brings Spurrier to his own cold, hard truth. In typical Spurrier fashion, there was some dry wit to it.

“There’s nothing fair about college football. You know that, don’t you?” he asked. “If it was fair, Alabama would have to sit out a year of recruiting. They’ve had the No. 1 class five out of six years. That’s like giving an NFL team the first five picks in the first and second round every year -- almost.

“And some teams play eight home games.”

Spurrier noted how Texas A&M and Auburn both played eight home games last season. Florida, he said, played only six, along with Georgia. South Carolina, meanwhile, hosted seven home games.

He's well aware of Florida's schedule, which includes Florida State as an annual nonconference opponent.

“To me, Florida’s got the toughest schedule of any of us,” he said. “That’s a tough deal for Coach [Will] Muschamp. He can’t complain about it and can’t say anything about it, but I’ll say something: He’s got the toughest schedule in the conference with only six home games. They’ve got Alabama and LSU next year. Did you know that? That’s brutal.”

It’s not fair, Spurrier said, but that’s how it fell. South Carolina will get Texas A&M and Auburn from the SEC West, which won’t be easy. And that’s on top of the annual rivalry game against ACC power Clemson.

Mississippi State, meanwhile, rotates Kentucky and Vanderbilt in from the SEC East. The Bulldogs’ big nonconference opponent is Southern Miss, which has won exactly one game in the past two seasons.

“It’s not exactly fair by any means,” Spurrier said. “But that’s the way we’ve always done it. We can still fill the ballparks and the interest is at an all-time high. We’ll worry about that fairness later on.

“In college football, you are whatever your schedule is. Nobody gave a dang last year that Texas A&M, their four out-of-conference games were Texas El Paso, Sam Houston State, SMU and Rice. That was their four out-of-conference games, and I think all four of them were at home. ... They gave up Texas to pick up Sam Houston State, and nobody said a word about that.”

Don’t worry, South Carolina-Clemson isn’t going anywhere. “I would not do it,” Spurrier said of even considering taking Clemson off the schedule.

But while we’re talking about schedules, who does have it worst? South Carolina's schedule is no cakewalk, but Spurrier might be right that Florida’s is a proverbial murderer’s row. Here’s a look at the three toughest and three easiest schedules in the SEC in 2014:

Three toughest
Three easiest