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The case for a true, cupcake-free 12-game college football schedule

Wouldn't a rugged schedule packed with must-see games be better than one with a bunch of walkovers?

Scott Cunningham

What do we want college football to be?

What's more fun: A 12-0 season that includes wins over Georgia State, Charleston Southern and The Citadel, or a 10-2 season with losses to Auburn and Oregon? In all the talk over the eight-game vs. nine-game schedule, I think a lot of people have lost sight of the 12-game schedule.

The college football season should be 12 games long, but, currently, for national powers, it is not: It's nine or 10 games, and a couple of scheduled slaughters. In most years, a full quarter of Florida's schedule consists of 100 percent automatic wins. (You may insert Georgia Southern jokes here.) To make matters worse, those three glorified scrimmages take up nearly half of the home schedule — that is, the games most people can actually attend.

So I'll ask again, in another way. What's better for you, the participating fan? A 12-0 championship season with three massacres in front of a half-empty Swamp, or a 10-2 season that includes a close loss to Auburn under the lights in Gainesville and a trip to Autzen Stadium? Keep in mind that the latter season could well end with a trip to Atlanta and the College Football Playoff anyway.

There's something to be said for the path of least resistance. Obviously, it leads to more national championships, and consequently more money for our precious indoor track and field programs.

But at what cost? There was much hand-wringing around here about the death of the Miami rivalry, which had been dead for more than 20 years. What about the Auburn rivalry? With the death of the nine-game conference schedule, Florida's oldest rivalry is as good as gone forever. Playing on the plains once every 12 years isn't the same as playing there every other season. You hardly get to know them well enough to form any kind of healthy hatred.

I actually rooted for Auburn in a lot of games last year. Do you know how sick and twisted that is?

I think the requirement that each SEC school schedule at least one opponent from a major conference is a step in the right direction, but it only takes us halfway there. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina already play an annual non-conference game with an in-state rival. Last year, Georgia and Florida both played TWO strong out-of-conference games ... so why not make everybody play two?

Let's go ahead and add that ninth SEC game and take a look at a potential Florida schedule.

Erewhon Southern
at Tennessee
at Arkansas
vs. Georgia
at Vanderbilt
South Carolina
at Florida State

Doesn't that look terrifying ... and awesome? I talk about this a lot on Twitter — about how I think it would be more fun to play an awesome regular season schedule, even if it costs us a few home games and occasionally costs us a shot at a championship.

People look at me funny over there, so I'm curious: What does the AA community think?

Obviously, if every SEC team played a schedule like this and no other conference required anything like it, there would be some serious concerns about the SEC's ability to ever compete in the College Football Playoff. For argument's sake, let's assume all the power conferences adopted a similar scheduling format.