University of South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier wants participants in the Southeastern Conference championship game to be chosen based on their record against division opponents – not their record against the conference at large.
“Your division champ should be decided on division games,” Spurrier said last week. “Last year, it wasn’t fair for Tennessee and Florida. They both played LSU and Alabama. Us and Georgia didn’t. So, us or Georgia almost had to win the division simply because of the schedule.”
Obviously Spurrier’s real motivation in pointing this out has nothing to do with Tennessee and Florida – and everything to do with the fact that his squad went 5-0 against the SEC East last year. In other words according to Spurrier it should have been his Gamecocks – not the Bulldogs – representing the division in Atlanta last December (a point reinforced by USC’s 45-42 victory over UGA in Athens).
We don’t necessarily disagree with that, but we’re not sold on Spurrier’s convoluted way of saying that his team was better than Mark Richt’s squad a year ago.
Tinkering with the SEC championship formula is obviously a big deal as five of the last six national champions also won the SEC title game (the only exception being last year’s Alabama squad, which beat SEC champion LSU for their second title in three years). It’s not something that should be done lightly – especially not prior to this year’s expansion.
Up until 2012, SEC teams played five games against division foes and three against opponents in the other division. And obviously the SEC West has been far superior in recent years – boasting the last three national championships and three of last year’s top five finishing teams. This year – with the addition of Texas A&M to the SEC West and Missouri to the SEC East – there will be six division games and only two inter-divisional match ups.
Frankly, that makes Spurrier’s argument even less valid in our opinion. Now more than ever before, if a team beats its division opponents the rest should take care of itself. Of course the flip side of that argument is that with only two non-division games on the schedule in 2012, an SEC team is much more likely to be able to “pull a Georgia” and draw the weakest opponents in the other division.
Still, the last time we checked Spurrier had only himself to blame for the one loss that kept the Gamecocks from clinching their second consecutive SEC East crown.
Pic: Travis Bell, Sideline Carolina