SEC issues: Are tougher nonconference schedules ahead?

Fourth in a series of previews by Josh Kendall on the key issues at next week’s SEC meetings in Destin, Fla.

jkendall@thestate.comMay 23, 2013 

USC football

THE STATE

The Issue

The new College Football Playoff, which takes effect in the 2014 season, will include a strength of schedule component. South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner believes that will mean more good out-of-conference matchups for college football fans.

“If you are a team that can be in one of those top four (playoff) spots, the possibility will exist that there could be, let’s say a two-loss team that goes ahead of a one-loss team based on strength of schedule,” Tanner said. “It’s a risk-and-reward situation. You put yourself in a position where you might not win the game or you schedule differently and you win but your strength of schedule might not get you there.”

The issue will be discussed this week in Destin, Tanner said.

What They’re Saying

Most seem to agree with Tanner that more quality non-conference games are coming soon.

“Everybody’s looking for improved schedules,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com. “I think they will be. And the committee we finally establish will have guidelines in that direction. We’re not saying everybody has to play the same schedule, but if you’re a Top 10-type program, we want you to be scheduling a Top 10-type program. If you’re in the middle, we understand that. For the most part, (the FCS games) were wins, and in a lot of cases, they weren’t good matchups. They’re good football teams, but it’s hard to compete when you’re 25 scholarships less. We think it’s a balanced package.”

What They’re Doing

The Gamecocks, who play North Carolina in 2014 and 2015, aren’t the only Southeastern Conference team with an impressive game coming up soon. Next season, Georgia plays Clemson, LSU plays TCU, Mississippi State plays Oklahoma State, Ole Miss plays Texas, Tennessee plays Oregon and Florida plays Miami. Auburn will travel to Kansas State in 2014, and Alabama has a home-and-home against Michigan State in 2016 and 2017. A&M, meanwhile, has a home-and-home scheduled with Oregon, but that doesn’t begin until 2018. The Aggies were tentatively scheduled to play Southern Cal in a home-and-home series before that, but it appears that matchup won’t happen.

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