Much has been made about the SEC and their questionable scheduling practices. Enough that Paul Rhoads has even lamented about how ridiculous it is that the Big XII plays nine conference games and the SEC somehow plays eight, can schedule FCS schools in November, and has protected rivalries which will occasionally protect the power schools from facing the hot team in an opposing division.
Good news everyone!
That is no longer the case Some things changed, but not really. The SEC announced yesterday that they will keep their eight game conference schedule but mandate a game annually against a Power 5 school. On paper that sounds like a pretty good compromise considering where they were. Yet, that's not really the case.
The schedule requires six games against the division, one protected rivalry game, and one game against an opponent from the opposing division. In effect nothing has changed except the convenient ploy to advertise that Power 5 games are now mandated. That doesn't go as far as the B1G though, who banned FCS opponents on future schedules last season. Instead, Alabama could play Oklahoma State in September but play The Little Sisters of the Poor the weekend before facing Auburn.
How does this impact Iowa State? In short, it doesn't. On the surface it appears that there are more paydays ahead for the Cyclones as they head to SEC country to get pounded by one of the Haves in college football, but in reality that couldn't be further from the truth.
As it stands right now Rhoads and Jamie Pollard have to contend with a nine game conference schedule, a game against Iowa, and potentially two patsies. In a typical year Northern Iowa would fall into that patsy category but they have moved quickly into the "No Win" situation and Iowa State is playing a nine game schedule with two additional rivalry games on top of some bottom feeding MAC school. Replace those MAC schools in the future with Air Force and UNLV and you have a set schedule for the foreseeable future. In short, there's no room for the SEC for the next decade on Iowa State's schedule.
If you want further proof of how this doesn't impact either the SEC or Iowa State, and is just pure lip service then look no further to this year's schedule:
Alabama: vs West Virginia
Arkansas: at Texas Tech
Auburn: at Kansas State
Florida: at Florida State
Georgia: vs Clemson, vs Georgia Tech
Kentucky: at Louisville (
Not Power 5, but...)
LSU: vs Wisconsin
Mississippi State: No Power 5 school scheduled in non-conference
Missouri: vs Indiana
Ole Miss: vs Boise State (Not Power 5, but...)
South Carolina: at Clemson
Tennessee: at Oklahoma
Texas A&M: No Power 5 school scheduled in non-conference
Vanderbilt: No Power 5 school scheduled in non-conference
As you can see, the SEC isn't necessarily ducking the other strong schools in the country. The programs that need to build their momentum may be, but the ones running the show are facing teams comparable to them. Essentially this means if an SEC school hasn't already scheduled Iowa State the odds of them doing so in the near future are pretty slim.
In reality this is a ploy to make sure Texas and Texas A&M get together again and preserve the rivalries like South Carolina-Clemson and Florida-Florida State.
For any Cyclone fans looking to make a trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium, or check out The Grove, they'll just have to wait until Jamie Pollard sees it fit for the program.