Rivalry games need to move up in the schedule

Rivalry games need to move up in the schedule
May 14, 2013, 11:15 am
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The nine game schedule talk is getting a lot of run in SEC circles and I would like to suggest on caveat to the addition of a conference game. Move the non-conference rivalry games to the beginning of the season. I don’t care if it’s week one or week two but play these games early and use the offseason for the hype. The fact that Georgia-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina and Florida-FSU are played the week before the SEC and ACC title games is problematic. Going forward four teams most likely conference champions will play for the National Title. Why would you want to play a bitter rival the week before the most important game on your schedule? These games are good for schedule strength but not for those teams that want to run the gauntlet to a playoff. For example FSU lost Tank Carradine to an ACL in a physical game with Florida. What if they had to play the next week against a real opponent (don’t laugh but eventually the ACC will have some) without him for a right to go to the playoff? 

In 1992 Steve Spurrier sat Shane Matthews for the entire second half versus FSU in a blowout loss to keep him and some others ready for Alabama. They nearly upset the eventual national champion and the move almost paid off. The professional sports teams do it all the time especially the NFL. If Alabama and Georgia are lined up to play for the SEC title and the winner goes to the playoff could you see the Dogs sitting Aaron Murray to get ready for what essentially is the first round playoff game? I don’t want to get rid of rivalries but the game has changed and unless your rivalry is in the same conference playing for the same prize then you should not be on the schedule in November. I think the games would help boost up the first two weeks of college football that is often lined with a few sprinkles of real games. I would rather see Georgia-Vandy, Florida-Tennessee and South Carolina-Kentucky than these rivalry games the week before the SEC title. Just one man’s opinion. 

Recruiting: 

Spring recruiting is going on as coaches begin their push for a top signing class for 2014. The early commitments are showing up more than ever due to the fact that many kids don't want to be left off the bus if it gets full. Another reason kids commit early, is the recruiting process has taken its full toll over their career. Think about today compared to 30 years ago. Kids were often recruited hard as juniors and seniors, now it’s as freshman and sophomores.  Let’s take a look at the number of commits so far in the SEC according to our friends at 247sports.com.

   

Total 

Five Star

Four Star

Three Star

1

LSU

10

2

5

3

2

Texas A&M

10

1

7

2

3

Tennessee

12

1

3

8

4

Florida

9

1

4

4

5

Ole Miss

9

0

5

4

6

Auburn

7

0

3

4

7

Alabama

6

1

4

1

8

Vanderbilt

8

0

2

6

9

Georgia

5

1

2

2

10

Kentucky

6

0

2

4

11

Missouri

7

0

0

5

12

Arkansas

4

0

2

2

13

South Carolina

3

0

1

2

14

Mississippi State

3

0

1

2

This and That… 

Everyone knows who the best returning pass rusher in the SEC is with regards to Jadevon Clowney. That is given since he is the number one prospect for the NFL draft, but who is the second best returning pass rusher in the league? This will certainly be an interesting sub plot to follow. 

You have Chris Smith at Arkansas who is the 2nd leading returning sack guy with 9.5. The junior defensive end piled up those numbers in a miserable defensive season for the Hogs. He did close the season with sacks in five consecutive games. Adrian Hubbard had 7 last year to lead Alabama, but he hardly feels like a dominant pass rusher just yet. However the light seemed to go on at the end of the season with three straight games registering a sack including one against Georgia and Notre Dame. I will give you two sleepers for big seasons. Georgia’s OLB Jordan Jenkins and Florida’s rush end Ronald Powell. Both guys play in positions that lend themselves to plenty of opportunities. 

Just for kicks - who has the toughest September schedule? 

Here’s the three toughest in my opinion in no particular order. 

  • Georgia – at Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas, LSU
  • Alabama – Virginia Tech (N), at Texas A&M, Colorado St., Ole Miss
  • Ole Miss – at Vanderbilt, SE Missouri, at Texas, at Alabama 

You could certainly make a case for Ole Miss having the toughest, I mean those three games on the road could all be losses. The Rebels game versus the Commodores will be huge to salvage September, but I don’t have a high opinion of Texas and think at 2-0 they could go in there and steal a win. 

Alabama plays perennial power Virginia Tech who has lost a step if you will, then the showdown in college station capped by a visit at the end of the month from upstart Ole Miss. The Tide are a heavy favorite versus the Hokies, but give them credit for scheduling a program that like Texas is usually good for nine or ten wins. 

The Dogs could be 1-3 and looking for answers at the end of September or 4-0 with one hand on the SEC East title. Georgia has lost three in a row to South Carolina and the match up with Clemson is going to be a shootout. The game against the Tigers will be a huge game but let me point out that the Georgia offense matches up well with three of the four opponents. The key will be the South Carolina game.

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