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Mitchell: The SEC's 6-1-1 Disaster
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive
Posted Jun 4, 2012

The SEC has twisted itself into a scheduling pretzel to preserve two games of great historical significance. It won’t last.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

Howdy Arkansas, and congratulations! You’ve won the right to host the Missouri Tigers every other year! In exchange, you now only welcome the Georgia Bulldogs once every 12 seasons.

That trip out to Gainesville too pricey for you, A&M fans? Well then, you best take a few extra pictures this September to remember the Gators because Muschamp and his College Station-loving self won’t circle back around until the year 2024.

And don’t chuckle too hard, South Carolina. You only get to see the Alabama Crimson Tide roll on into Columbia once every three presidential election cycles. LSU too. And Auburn. And Arkansas.

Welcome to the 6-1-1 schedule, SEC fans – as brutal a compromise as the league could've come up with, and it's all to preserve two games for four schools: Alabama vs. Tennessee and UGA vs. Auburn.


As if it would somehow mask the truth about what they have taken from you, the SEC powers that be have discarded the home-and-home tradition for cross-divisional games. No worries, you were told, you’ll still see those teams once every six years.

No, no you won’t. Not unless you can afford to travel to watch your team play, not to mention land one of the coveted road team seats.

Even then, it’s still just once every six years. Thus, for the first time SEC players are now being forced to miss teams in their conference careers regardless of health/ability – in this case, two teams. (Wait until that little nugget starts popping up in recruiting wars, by the way…)

Inevitable for an expanding conference, you say.

No it’s not. It’s only inevitable to protect two games for four schools. Without that, you could continue with the two floating non-division games, and simply do away with the inequitable dedicated non-divisional game.


Not all games are created equal. Period. In terms of both fan interest and the ancillary revenue they generate. Think I’m wrong? Go ask your local university restaurateur or ticket broker.

Some games simply drive more interest (think of interest in terms of cash). If you’re randomly saddling certain teams with dedicated games for which there is less interest, how long are they going to be happy with that? How long until those teams revolt against what is a financially untenable and inequitable format?

Brace yourself - the Mad Hatter is absolutely correct. The dedicated cross-divisional game structure is also unbalanced. How can one argue otherwise, other than try to divert attention from the facts?

You can certainly suggest that teams cycle in and out of excellence. Absolutely. But that doesn’t change the fact that this structure is, at its core, inequitable for whichever teams are forced to play every year the better teams of that era. Today, Florida’s having to play LSU every season is a material advantage for South Carolina. Period.

And here’s the rub. Most of these scheduling nightmares, inequities, and financial hardships can be resolved relatively simply by abandoning the Georgia vs. Auburn and Tennessee vs. Alabama traditional games.

So as not to appear cavalier, there’s not an SEC fan or writer who doesn’t treasure these two annual events, myself included. But we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t take all the money that comes with conference expansion and simply ignore the reality that we’ve added more teams to the scheduling pot. Dedicated cross-divisional games are no longer feasible, regardless of whether or not they were ever equitable.

Finally, it’s a novelty, I know, but remember also that the building of rivalries requires that teams actually play one another. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up with a de facto two conferences, as fans will in time become even more disassociated from the opposing division teams via the 6-1-1 format.


Might we one day see a major conference reorg when we get to 16 teams? Perhaps. If so, then conceivably the 6-1-1 format is simply a delaying tactic until we move to pods of four teams each, and in so doing identify a way to preserve the traditional match-ups between UGA/Auburn and UT/Bama. Perhaps.

But none of that changes the fact that as it stands today the 6-1-1 schedule is inequitable and unnecessarily robs SEC fans the joy of seeing its teams.

All to preserve two games for four schools.

By the way, when we get to 16 teams, IF we stick with this ill-conceived format and extrapolate it out to a 7-1-1 schedule, that means, Georgia fan, that you’ll only see the LSU Tigers and Crimson Tide between the hedges twice every thirty or so year. Or about four occasions in a college football lifetime.

Yeah, that’ll work.

Follow me @russmitchellcfb