Why Les Miles whining about Florida-LSU isn't about fairness at all

Kevin C. Cox

Les Miles is back to whining about the unfairness of permanent cross-division SEC opponents, which is whining about playing Florida every year, which is silly.

Florida and LSU will play again this fall in Baton Rouge, the 43rd consecutive year the two SEC teams have met on a football field. The Florida-LSU rivalry has favored Florida during that time, with the Gators going 24-16-2 against the Tigers since the rivalry became an annual one.

I've never heard a Florida coach complain about it. But for the second year in a row, Les Miles is leading the charge of his own whine brigade:

LSU coach Les Miles said Wednesday it’s time to do away with permanent cross-divisional opponents in the SEC.

"A key piece for any conference is to allow equal access for any champion," said Miles, who suggested that a computer should be utilized to select a rotation of two cross-divisional opponents for each team in the league.

"It's interesting to see how you would compare our schedule with others," Miles said. "I wonder if there should be no permanent (scheduling) partners (in the SEC)."

Miles went as far as to say that he wondered if it would be better to have a computer pick the two cross-division opponents "by random draw."

Now, this isn't the first time Miles has raised this concern, nor the first time he has been contradicted by Will Muschamp, who has been in favor of keeping LSU on Florida's schedule despite being against nine SEC games because the Gators' schedule features Florida State every year. But Miles hasn't been explicitly whining about the unfairness of having to play the big, bad Gators until just now.

If "equal access for any champion" is Miles' goal, he should probably tackle a few of the other questions of fairness the SEC presents. Is it fair that Missouri, physically located in the western half of SEC country, got the slightly easier East as its division, while Texas A&M has to fight its way through the West? Was it fair that Texas A&M had to begin its 2012 season with Florida, which handed the Aggies a loss that crippled their SEC Championship Game chances?

Will the SEC Championship Game ever be fair for Florida, Georgia, and/or South Carolina if they sustain injuries against their non-SEC foes — and was it fair when Florida had to play into the SEC Championship Game in 2001 after a brutal game against Florida State? Would it be fair for an SEC West team if Vanderbilt, which has finished its season with a non-rivalry game against Wake Forest for the last three years, got a relatively easy opponent in its final week?

Was it fair when the SEC Championship Game was held in friggin' Alabama in its first two seasons, and is it fair that ticketing procedures for that game back then have resulted in Alabama having a built-in fan advantage in any SEC Championship Game? And is it fair that the SEC's offices are still just an hour from Tuscaloosa, making Alabama physically more visible to the decision-makers in the conference than any other school?

No, Les, the SEC is not currently close to fair, nor is it trying to be, and you actually benefit from more of the privileges of being in the SEC — like, say, losing to Kentucky and yet still winning a national title because wins over teams like Florida help outweigh a loss to Kentucky, or getting eventual national champion Alabama at home in 2012, which probably helped LSU get a lead it would later blow, and getting Texas A&M late enough in the year to have Johnny Manziel tape to study — than you are probably willing to admit as a show of good faith during your ongoing campaign to get little ol' LSU a fair shake.

LSU is one of three SEC teams without another team in a BCS auto-bid conference in its state (Arkansas and Missouri are the other two), and is the only one of those three teams with a truly talent-rich recruiting base all to itself. Miles got to build on the most solid foundation in the SEC when he got his job after Nick Saban left for the NFL. LSU's the only SEC team that clamors for night games and earn the sympathy of the rest of the conference, because the mystique of Tiger Stadium at night is deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness of college football.

And Miles himself gets a pass on meathead clichés and heteronormative, patriarchal hogwash about how his players deserve a kiss on the mouth "if you're a girl" because he's entertaining, and thus worthy of attention but not scrutiny.

If Miles thinks a random draw will be fairer or easier for LSU than a yearly game against Florida, he should say that. He's not arguing for fairness or equal access for the whole SEC, though, just for the easiest possible path his Tigers can march to glory. Sometimes, the things Les Miles says are just as craven and calculated as any other coach in America — and they should be treated as such.

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