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SEC decides to stay with eight-game football schedule

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Give the Southeastern Conference credit for at least thinking about wanting to play fair.

For a few weeks and days, it actually considered doing what was best for college football but decided, in the end, to do what was best for the SEC.

What a shock.

With the sport moving to a four-team playoff next season, it was generally conceded the five major conferences would all move to play a nine-game league schedule.

The Pac-12 and Big 12 already play nine, the Big Ten will be there in 2016 and the Atlantic Coast will essentially be at nine with independent Notre Dame becoming a playing partner in football.

Having all five major conferences on a level schedule field would have been the best way for the 12-person selection committee to evaluate each team's playoff worthiness.

But, no, essentially because it could, the SEC decided last weekend it would stick to playing eight conference games.

The SEC proved it has been the nation’s top football conference by winning nine of the 16 titles in the Bowl Championship Series era.

Playing an eight-game schedule in a 14-team league, however, also produced some matchup misses that helped the SEC brilliantly negotiate the BCS standings.

The selection committee is now forced to consider one league playing one fewer conference game.

That isn’t fair, but the SEC doesn't care.

It says it will offset the eight-game discrepancy by demanding its schools, by 2016, play at least one nonconference game against a member of a major conference.

What that means is 14 SEC teams, at this moment, are trying to line up future games against Indiana and Colorado.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the new College Football Playoff, told reporters Tuesday at CFP meetings in Texas that the selection committee “will not be in the business of dictating to conferences their scheduling.”

Hancock said the committee, in selecting the four playoff teams, will consider the totality of the schedule.

SEC teams will continue to play six division games, one permanent crossover game and one rotating crossover.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said this would adequately address strength of schedule with the selection committee.

It also assumes the SEC will always be considered the best league, top to bottom, as it continues to allow the potential for gaping schedule misses.

Two years ago, East champion Georgia came within a few feet of making the BCS title game despite not having to play any of the best teams from the powerhouse SEC West during the regular season.

Slive assured in a statement “our teams will boast a strong resume of opponents each and every year.”

One pundit suggested this week the four other major conferences should boycott playing the SEC in nonconference games.

“So what’s the incentive for the other conferences to help out the SEC by scheduling out-of-conference games?”  Samuel Chi wrote for Bleacher Report. “So the SEC can make sure its top team—or even a second team—make the CFP field annually? So the SEC can have more bowl teams. So the SEC can have more attractive games in its inventory for the nascent SEC Network.”

The SEC response would be: Why not?

In fact, the non-SEC power conferences would be better served by not scheduling games against the SEC, but that probably won’t happen.

All conferences still need quality inventory to boost their playoff hopes against the reputation of the SEC.

The SEC, in the end, played this perfectly, gave up nothing and took what it wanted.

Isn’t that what dynasties do?

In the end, as they say, it's good to be king.

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