This latest article is from Pops Tider. Yeah, the site's considered "retired" but when we do some research and find out information like this, we can't help but post and make sure everybody else knows about it.
In 1989, then SEC Commissioner Harvey Schiller birthed the grand scheme of working around NCAA rules governing scheduling. He set about a plan to create a twelve team league with two divisions and a highly profitable championship game. It was outside the box thinking in its original form. The recruiting of Arkansas and South Carolina were in place and the league could their twelve team, two division set up in 1992; and Shiller stepped down immediately following the 1989 season. Twenty odd years later others (BigX, PAC10) are just getting to the place where they can make it happen. Schiller did it in one move.
The guy who enjoyed the ride was Roy Kramer, ex- Vanderbilt AD and SEC Commissioner during the darkest days of Alabama football. Kramer became the SEC commissioner in 1990, moving straight from Vanderbilt to the conference office in Birmingham. Having been raised in Maryville, Tennessee and returning to Nashville later in life, Kramer’s history is deep in Tennessee and especially in East Tennessee. Kramer has never been one to shy away from the media. His recent bravado with the Tennessee media, the National media, and anyone who wanted to fawn over him for his role in the initial “Conference Expansion” talk from his home in Vonore, Tennessee, was about more that I could bear. Combining that with recently developing information about SEC scheduling has forced me into research mode.
The original scheduling of the 12 team SEC for football began in 1992 with a 5-2-1 format. That simply means that each team played the 5 teams in their own division, 2 regular rivals from the other division, and one rotating team from the other division each year; simple enough to schedule and it takes 6 years to play everyone twice. That format was adopted again in 1997 and the last round robin concluded in 2003. Kramer resigned in July, 2002 and had already changed the format of the schedule to a 5-1-2. This would take eight years to play through and would be Kramer’s last parting shot at Alabama. The change in format meant a shake up of some traditional weekends and gave the SEC office under the control of Kramer a chance to get in one last jab after the hose job by the same office during the Albert Means scandal and the recruiting whines of the fat one, Mr. Fulmer, who, by the way, lives in Maryville, Tennessee, also.
The scheduling format takes the conference schedule and overlays weekends for conference games and weekends reserved for out of conference games. The eight year plan has opportunities for teams to play 64 conference games. As eight of those are “opening weekend” games, the conference office does not figure into the scheduling of the preceding game except on very rare occasions when two teams will open the conference schedule a week early to accommodate television schedules. So to be fair, the conference only has preceding game influence on 7 games a year for a total of 56. Since the 2011 schedule, which is a part of this package, is not complete yet, we;; leave it off and discuss the first seven years.
For the 48 games the conference has scheduled for Alabama since 2004 (including 2010) over which they have had previous game influence, they have given opponents opportunity to schedule as they see fit 34 times. 70% of the time the conference has allowed the team on Alabama’s schedule to schedule an out of conference game or an open date prior to playing Alabama. The balance of that number is incredible -- of the other 14 games, on 10 different occasions from 2004 through 2009, opponents have had the conference office schedule Vanderbilt or Kentucky the week before they play Alabama. Not once in that time frame has an opponent played Florida, LSU, Auburn or Tennessee and only three time has an opponent played Georgia, all by Auburn in 2004, 2005, and 2006 when they used their open date prior to the Georgia game. The sad state of our program in the early years of the bracket gave opponents opportunity to pick and chose their built in wins from 2004 through 2007 by scheduling those the week before Alabama leaving the figures for those years somewhat diluted. But beginning in 2007 and the hiring of Nick Saban, another phenomenon began to appear. Because of the openings arranged by the conference office, rivals began scheduling their open dates the week prior to playing Alabama culminating in our having 6 of 8 conference opponents with the ability to schedule open dates prior to taking on the Tide. All of Alabama’s opponents combined have had only 15 conference games the week before playing Alabama ------ in SEVEN YEARS. By contrast, Tennessee is playing opponents coming off a conference game in almost 2/3 of their conference games in the same time frame. Over 60% of their conference schedule includes games against foes who have played a conference game the week before. I’ve not looked deeper-----I didn’t have to.