This post is in response to last week’s comments by Scott Woodward in the Houston Chronicle that Texas A&M was booked when Texas asked to schedule a home and home. This post isn’t about playing Texas but I will give my thoughts on that later. This post is putting some tarnish on the SEC and ACC when it comes to their scheduling. Their 8 game conference schedule is creating too many crappy match-ups.
I’m okay with two crappy games a year at Kyle Field but I’m tired of three. All teams in a “Power 5” conference should not schedule more than two non “Power 5” teams at home each season. The Big 10, Big 12, and Pac-12 tend to already do this because they have a 9 game conference schedule. Outside of those nine games they usually schedule a “Power 5” non conference game so they have at least 10 “Power 5” games a year. Some schools go above and beyond it scheduling two non conference “Power 5” games a year. Just last year USC scheduled Notre Dame and Texas out of conference while Texas scheduled Maryland and USC out of conference. That left one crappy home game on their schedule. That’s putting the fans first.
I get Woodward’s comments the SEC West is brutal. As someone who who forks out a decent amount of money every season for tickets at Kyle Field, sitting through 3 crappy non conference games a year is brutal. No dis-respect to the teams we’re playing but there really isn’t anything enjoyable about watching those games. The Aggies should win those games in convincing fashion and if they don’t it’s even worse. There’s nothing to be gained from those games from an enjoyment standpoint. It’s basically schedule manipulation for an easy win and to hopefully keep the team healthy for the season. I get why it’s done but it doesn’t mean I like it. I know there’s also a financial benefit to scheduling those games but that doesn’t make it okay either. Scheduling two crappy games a year at Kyle Field is plenty. Let’s get rid of that 3rd game.
The SEC either needs to add that 9th conference game a year or require teams to schedule two “Power 5” teams every year outside of conference. I get why the SEC isn’t eager to add a 9th game to the schedule because teams like South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia already have regular non conference in state rival games each season. South Carolina plays Clemson, Florida plays Florida State, and Georgia plays Georgia Tech. Sure, Georgia Tech isn’t what it used it to be but it’s still a “Power 5” rivalry game that’s slated for every season. That’s basically a 9 game “Power 5” schedule for those schools. That only allows for 3 free games to schedule each year while other schools have four.
Some teams in the SEC and ACC schedule two “Power 5” non conference games giving them ten “Power 5” games a year but not all. There needs to be some consistency in the quality of opponents when it comes to non conference games. It’s time for the SEC and ACC to come together and get on board with what the rest of the “Power 5” conferences are doing. When they’re not doing it they’re really cheating the fans. Some fans get better schedules while other fans suffer.
If you haven’t taken a look at some of the schedules for teams in the Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 12 you should do so. I get there are some crappy teams in those conferences like Kansas and Illinois. At least they’re conference games and not complete trash games like Northwestern St, Louisiana Monroe, or Alabama Birmingham. There is nothing redeeming about any of those opponents other than glorified practices. Let’s be honest.
I love the Clemson game at home this season but next year these will be the teams we play at Kyle Field – Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas State, Lamar, and UTSA. Outside of Alabama and Auburn that’s not a very exciting home schedule. South Carolina and Mississippi State will be competitive games but they’re not super intriguing. Good conference games but that’s about it. I know there’s Arkansas at Jerry World but that game doesn’t count for any home consideration right now. It’s still a conference game and even if we brought it home and home there would still be 3 crappy games at Kyle Field based on how we currently schedule.
For those that argue the SEC West is brutal they’re absolutely right. It’s the toughest division in college football. But that’s what A&M signed up to play in. The fans shouldn’t be punished when A&M is not playing those games. The other reality is thanks to the College Football Playoff if you win the SEC Championship you’re all but a lock to get a spot in the College Football Playoff. A loss in a non conference game doesn’t hurt you at all. A win actually makes your resume look much better in case you don’t win the SEC and you’re looking for a spot. Texas A&M is not Alabama so it’s not going to get the benefit of the doubt if it doesn’t win the SEC West in most seasons. Wins in strong non conference games would only bolster a resume in that situation. Sure, it could hurt but more than likely a quality win would do more to propel a team into the playoff than a loss hurting them.
The reality is non of this is changing for A&M or the SEC and ACC any time soon. Fans at big schools pony up for their prime season tickets every year because taking off a year would mean losing your place in line. It doesn’t mean it’s in the best interest of the fan. It might be in the best financial interest of the school but that doesn’t always align with fan interest. If you really think about what you’re getting for your annual donation and season ticket purchase every year it could be much better. Just don’t expect it to change anytime soon.
As for playing Texas I’d actually like to see it. I’d like for A&M and Texas to renew their annual rivalry like Florida and Florida State. I know lots of fans on both sides come up with reasons why it shouldn’t happen but it’s really emotional reasons. Like jilted lovers both sides come up with reasons like “We’ve moved on” and “We don’t need them.” Neither of those make any real season. Football in the state of Texas is better when A&M and Texas play each other annually. They’re natural rivals even if some fans on either side like to pretend otherwise.
There’s no real downside to playing it because no matter the record in a given season EVERY fan on each side is going to somehow rationalize their team is better than the other team. One team could be 6-6 while the other is 11-1 but the fan on the 6-6 side will find some rationalization for why their team would win that year. You never lose to your rival in your mind and you’ll argue in endless circles whenever someone says differently. Might as well line up the teams and see who would actually win.
Both teams get plenty of run in state so it’s not like some people don’t know who the schools are. It won’t really affect recruiting that much because both teams are now selling two different things. A&M is selling the SEC and Texas is selling the B12. Who wins or loses that game won’t really affect how players feel about each school. If anything it might help the recruiting at both schools as it will re-solidify A&M and Texas as the marquee football programs in the state. They’re still perceptionally seen that way but having that game played every year solidifies it across the state.
It’s pretty obvious this game won’t return anytime soon but the reasons given always strike me as foolish. It reeks of bitterness or jealousy. When you’re confident you don’t care who you play. You’re willing to line it up against the best and see what happens. If you’re not good enough you make excuses accordingly. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to A&M and Texas playing again but I’m not afraid. I only see upside to these two natural rivals strapping it up against each other every year. It’s good for the fans and the sport of college football. Especially the season ticket holders.
Either way, I don’t care if Texas is on the schedule but three crappy games a year at Kyle Field needs to go right away. It can happen if the powers that be want it to. Don’t let their words of there’s no room on the schedule for it to happen fool you. Money talks and if it meant more money it would happen tomorrow. It won’t happen because fans will just keep sucking it up and paying their money. Administration wins blaming a “full schedule” that could easily be bought out while putting a quality opponent in their place. It’s not that hard unless you want to make it that hard.
Oh well, when do the Aggies take on Northwestern State? Thursday? Cool. I’ll be there wearing maroon and cheering for the good guys. Take my money please.