Ever since the 2013 SEC schedule came out, local Baton Rouge media & fans have groused about how, for the second straight year, the "temporary" SEC football schedule gave LSU teams like Georgia & Florida, while Alabama got to play the patsies of the league. To add insult to injury, LSU was shoved down the bowl pecking order by the SEC to "protect" other teams & other matchups.
The Baton Rouge Advocate recently went to print with two articles with reasons for LSU to stay and reasons for them to go. I think its ridiculous to even think of LSU leaving the SEC, but here we are discussing it.
And no, I don't think in any way, shape, or form should LSU leave the conference.
The reasons for leaving are quite valid arguments, though. The aforementioned scheduling issue is the most glaring. The conference is dead set on preserving a set of rivalries within the conference at the expense of other teams. This was the case when the league formed in 1992. Back then though, LSU was in the midst of its darkest dark age. It only made sense that Florida, who was rising quickly under Steve Spurrier, would get a weaker team to play each year from the other division. This system worked in 1992.
Fast forward to 2012, add two teams, have conference powers rise and fall, now you've got an entirely different situation. LSU is arguably the most consistently successful team in the SEC since 2000. They take a back seat to no one. Thus, when it came time last year for the SEC to rework it's schedule, it seemed to make sense the old system was not going to work anymore.
That was not the case. The SEC put in place a "temporary" scheduling system which basically took the old scheduling system and shoehorned two new teams into it. LSU was still playing one of the best teams in the East division on a regular basis and Alabama still was playing a Tennessee team that hadn't been relevant in five years. All in the name of tradition.
The breaking point was reached just a few months ago, when the SEC came out with another "temporary" schedule. This time, not only is LSU still playing Florida, which was not entirely a tragedy since LSU had already been playing a competitive series with them the past 10 years, but now LSU is traveling to Georgia while Alabama gets perennial cellar-dweller Kentucky and a still bismal UT program.
The most recent cherry on the top of LSU's anger is the bowl game selections. The conference office saw fit to protect Georgia, who had just lost the SEC Championship Game, by placing them in the Capital One bowl. They also disallowed a first time ever meeting between LSU and Michigan in the Outback bowl, essentially locking them into chosing South Carolina. To complete the shuffle, the SEC lobbied the Cotton Bowl for a Texas A&M-Oklahoma battle, which left only the Chick-Fil-A bowl for LSU. Two teams LSU was not only ranked ahead of, but also beat, went to more prestigious bowl games.
Neither the scheduling problems nor the bowl debacle, on their own, are reasons for LSU to even think about a life outside of the SEC. But those issues compound when they happen at the same time, and in the case of the scheduling issue, repeatedly.
Still, this is no reason to leave the conference.
There is never a good reason to leave the most powerful conference in college athletics willfully. The reason why Texas A&M bolted the Big 12, among others, is the massive payout to teams that's distributed equally among all members that dwarfed wha the Big 12 was giving them. If LSU left, the only option for them is the Big 12, and that sure make sense doesn't it?
The prestige of the SEC can't be matched by any other conference right now. It's in the midst of an unprecedented run of overwhelming success. Why would you entertain the idea? I'm not even mentioning what it would mean for other sports. LSU baseball would be playing teams that even Conference USA would laugh at.
No, what LSU needs to do is throw around the weight its gained since the turn of the century. Not only is Tiger football the most successful, consistent program since 2000, but Forbes' recently rated it the 4th most valuable college football team in the country. That's higher than any other SEC program, including Alabama, Florida and Georgia. This isn't new; LSU has been at the top for a while now.
I'm not saying LSU needs to follow the Texas model, which seems to be run the conference as a subsidiary of yourself, but LSU should at least yell a little louder. So far, Alleva's made LSU's dislike of the current situation known, but there needs to be more bite to the bark. The conference office would balk at threats to leave, but there are other things in LSU's arsenal that they can use.
Birmingham has been far to close to Tuscaloosa for too long, its high time a team with clout attempts to do something about it. LSU needs to champion the cause. It's time Alleva truly made noise and attempted to affect change. There's too much at stake not too. LSU doesn't need to upturn the apple cart, just merely knock a few off, or maybe a wheel.