If only Roy Kramer were still in power, this wouldn’t happen to Tennessee.
Isn’t that right, Tennessee/SEC conspiracy theory enthusiasts? Look at Tennessee’s schedule, starting Saturday against Florida. The Gators are coming off a week without a game. Fine. Not good for the Volunteers, but it happens.
But Georgia also plays Tennessee after an off week. And so does South Carolina. And so does Kentucky.
Vanderbilt is the only division opponent that doesn’t get an extra week to prepare for Tennessee. Roy, are you there?
If Kramer were the commissioner, there’s a better chance last Saturday’s Auburn-Mississippi State game would be replayed on ESPN Classic than Tennessee facing this kind of schedule. I kid.
Look, this stuff matters. Last year, Georgia got an off week and then beat Florida. Mississippi State got an off week and beat Alabama. After the Vols’ off week, they slammed Georgia by three touchdowns. Kentucky got two extra days to prepare for LSU thanks to a Thursday night game and promptly beat the eventual national champions.
Cover your eyes, Tennessee fans: Urban Meyer is 23-3 when he has more than a week to prepare for an opponent and hasn’t lost a game following a bye week since he coached at Bowling Green in 2001.
Here’s the amazing number, courtesy of a gambling expert: Meyer is 13-2 against the spread after a bye week. That’s incredible. His Gators are 7.5-point favorites against the Vols this week.
Of course, it’s easy to beat the spread when you never kneel the ball with a lead.
“As far as preparation, one of the reasons we’ve maybe done well is that I’ve got a very good group of coaches. We don’t waste time,” Meyer said. “We’re already knee-deep in our opponent.”
Meyer said that last Wednesday. Phillip Fulmer was knee-deep in you-know-what last Wednesday. The benefit of a bye week isn’t necessarily rest and health. The benefit is an extra week to prepare and install a game plan, and Fulmer knows it.
“The bye week is not something you can do anything about, but maybe we’ll address it with them,” Fulmer said, referring to the SEC office. “Sometimes when you’re not playing well, you want that bye week to get yourself better. But this past week we were glad to have a game.”
Actually, the SEC office can’t do much about the scheduling. Here’s how it works: The SEC schedules eight conference games for each team in a 14-week span. The school gets six weeks to schedule four nonconference games and two bye weeks.
“We can control it to a point,” SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said. “We set a conference schedule, and it’s up to the institution to set the nonconference schedule. The institution can have some leeway on how they want to schedule.”
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky all had leeway the week before playing Tennessee, and all scheduled bye weeks. Vanderbilt has to play Kentucky the week before the Tennessee game, or we might have seen a clean sweep of East teams getting an extra week for the Vols. That’s a tremendous disadvantage for the Vols.
But I want to give you some hope, Tennessee fans. UCLA had a bye week before playing BYU last Saturday and still lost 59-0.
Oh wait, that didn’t help at all.