With the return of spring blooms and warmer weather, it is time for yet another rite of spring: LSU fans complaining about the schedule.
Joe Alleva, secret ATVS reader, has finally gone to the mattresses in regards to scheduling, refusing to budge on scheduling a Thanksgiving game at LSU. He recently threatened that LSU would never play a Thursday game in Baton Rouge so long as he was in charge. Good for him.
Some of this is a bit too little, too late. Alleva has been the guy in charge as LSU has lost every single political argument within the management of the SEC, especially in regards to scheduling. It wasn't some other guide manning the ship when LSU went an entire season without a single home SEC night game. But hey, we're just happy he's on the team at all. The people have spoken, and the administration has finally heard you.
Of course, this is really just moving the goalposts. Most LSU fans hate playing the Friday after Thanksgiving, and we certainly hate any day game. By drawing the line at playing on Thanksgiving itself, Alleva will be able to declare victory when the SEC forces us to play Texas A&M on Friday in the mid-afternoon. It will still be a blow to tradition, but at least we will avoid the worst possible scenario. Way to shoot for the moon, y'all.
But fighting over the Friday after Thanksgiving is a waste of time. We've already lost that battle, and we lost it twenty years ago when the SEC first moved LSU-Arkansas to that date. LSU is destined to play on the Friday after Thanksgiving for the rest of eternity, except the times we're forced to play on Thanksgiving proper. It's a fight worth having, but we are ultimately doomed.
Also outside LSU's control is the cross-divisional games. OK, LSU administration is partly to blame for not fighting harder for a nine-game schedule, as the eight-game schedule in a fourteen team league is a complete absurdity. Only a dozen years in between trips to Athens!
But this year's schedule is shaping up nicely for LSU's competitive chances. South Carolina is perhaps the only team in the SEC with bigger quarterback problems than LSU, and Florida is going to spend the year digging out from Muschamp's not-so-benign neglect. This is the easiest cross-divisional schedule LSU has had this century, and Auburn and Alabama will be at a competitive disadvantage with their relatively more difficult schedules.
This is still wrong. Just because the Schedule Gods and the Wheel of Fortuna benefit LSU this year, it doesn't make a crappy system less crappy. This is an illogical, unfair system that defies basic common sense, and it doesn't make it better that this year it hurts Alabama and helps LSU. In fact, is more important to voice displeasure with the eight-game schedule in a year it benefits your team, as my opposition to this awful, non-competitive system that loosens the binds of the conference affiliation is not based upon what's simply good for my team. It's about what is good for the entire SEC.
Nine games allows the SEC to keep cross-divisional permanent opponents, but still rotate the other six teams in the other division through your schedule in a timely manner. LSU could play the six other East teams in three years, and visit every campus every six years. A junior who declares early for the NFL draft could still play every other SEC team in his three year stint under a nine-game system. Isn't the point of being in the same conference to actually, you know, PLAY each other?
The SEC dropped the second permanent rival during the first wave of expansion for precisely this reason. Peyton Manning went his entire career without playing LSU (lucky for us, as we were in the depths of the Hallman era). Still, every fanbase should get a chance to see the great players play their team at least once before they leave school forever. Careers are short, and LSU fans missed out on Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, and Peyton Manning. I don't want to miss out on the next SEC legend.
The eight-game schedule allows LSU to schedule four out-of-conference games, entirely within its control. And what have they done with this power? They have scheduled the equivalent of four games against practice cones. The toughest OOC opponent LSU will face this season is Syracuse, and no disrespect to Syracuse, but that is a shameful schedule for a top 25 team.
Oh, Alleva says 80 percent of teams hang up when LSU calls? A) I don't believe you and B) find a good opponent in that remaining 20 percent. And with Baylor getting left out of the playoffs, primarily due to its awful non-conference schedule, there have to be AD's out there looking to beef up their schedules. Playing no good teams out of conference is not going to fly in the playoff era. The committee doesn't want to hear your excuses. Neither do fans. Your job is hard? Tough. Schedule one good team.
LSU has the easiest cross-divisional schedule it has had in over a decade. LSU plays a terrible OOC schedule in which a single loss would be an embarrassment. I know the program needs to get back to the ten-win plateau, but this is not the way to do it.
This is a schedule without honor. I'm happy Alleva is trying to fight for LSU's traditions on Thanksgiving, but considering he has dropped the ball on every other front regarding scheduling, I'm not encouraged. You don't get a gold star after scheduling this piece of garbage OOC and failing to put forth a coherent argument for a nine-game schedule, which the SEC desperately needs to adopt.
Nine SEC games. No FCS schools. One upper tier Power 5 team. These are not unreasonable demands. But we're not playing on Thanksgiving this year, so way to go. Forgive me if we don't throw Alleva a party for doing, literally, the least he could do.