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Anchor Drop, May 27, 2023: 91 Days to Kickoff

Is the SEC’s nine-game conference schedule dead?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Wake Forest at Vanderbilt Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning.

Optional Musical Accompaniment

We are now 91 days — that’s 13 weeks — away from Vanderbilt football’s season opener against Hawaii. 91 for the Commodores is defensive lineman Christian James. The 6’4”, 290-pound fifth-year senior from Germantown, Tennessee (ironically also Tom’s hometown, though I must put in an obligatory boo to the Christian Brothers Purple Wave, no really that’s their nickname) started all 12 games last season and made 32 tackles with two sacks.

Vanderbilt baseball beat Alabama 9-2 on Friday night, jumping out to a five-run lead in the first inning and never really letting the Tide back in the game, with Colby Shelton’s two-run homer accounting for their only runs. Devin Futrell and Thomas Schultz used the opportunity to get right ahead of next weekend’s NCAA regionals, with Schultz tossing four innings of one-hit ball in relief of Futrell. That advances Vanderbilt to the semifinals, where they’ll play Florida again today at 3:30 PM CT on the SEC Network. Florida will likely have Jac Caglianone waiting for us, whereas I have no frickin’ clue who Vanderbilt will start.

Men’s golf finished the first round of the NCAA Championship in a tie for fourth at 2-over par, with Cole Sherwood leading the team with a 4-under 66. The Commodores are in the first group out today at 8:10 AM CT; live scoring is here.

Men’s golf officially announced the signings of Jason Rivera-Torres and Malik Presley, both of whom committed earlier this month. Celina Sattelkau was selected as a second-team All-American.

In other news, the SEC’s proposed nine-game conference football schedule is getting some pushback from Nick Saban. One problem: some teams already have four non-conference games scheduled for years in advance, which would mean that they’d have to back out of already-signed game contracts — possibly at a financial cost. Another problem: adding an extra conference game to the schedule would make it harder for schools to guarantee themselves seven home games a year; the current model gives each team four conference home games (or, I guess, sometimes three for Arkansas, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Florida) and allowing four non-conference games, and a typical SEC team is scheduling three guarantee games.

Another possible problem: ESPN desperately wants the league to add a ninth conference game (because of inventory), but it doesn’t sound like the league’s television contract will give the schools any additional money if they do. Which gets into the protected rivalries. Early on, the conference suggested that it would look at “competitive balance” when deciding which rivalries would be protected — code for “the league doesn’t care about preserving games that have been played forever but which are generally one-sided,” like Alabama-Mississippi State and Kentucky-Tennessee. (Hell, some of the more addle-brained proposals floating around the internet don’t even preserve Tennessee-Vanderbilt, and if you call out this idiocy you get met with “but wouldn’t you like to make bowl eligibility more likely?” even though if Vanderbilt can’t even guarantee that it plays Tennessee every year, what the fuck is the point of remaining in the SEC?)

That’s now become a convenient way to duck the financial issues of adding a ninth conference game: Nick Saban framed the issue in those terms back in March. Alabama-LSU is the Florida-Tennessee of the 2010s, the game that isn’t really a rivalry but people thought it was because of the SEC’s divisional structure and the fact that those were the two dominant teams in the West for a while. The whole point of having three protected rivalries, after all, is to keep the games that teams care about playing every year — though, honestly, I’d prefer to just keep the divisional structure. But if Vanderbilt isn’t going to have Kentucky on the schedule every year, we might as well just leave it at one protected rival as we move forward into the pile of bullshit that is the 16-team SEC.

Sports on TV

All times Central.

  • 12:00 PM: SEC Baseball: Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (SEC Network)
  • 12:00 PM: PGA Tour: Charles Schwab Challenge, Third Round (Golf Channel)
  • 12:00 PM: MLB: Padres at Yankees or White Sox at Tigers (MLB Network)
  • 2:00 PM: PGA Tour: Charles Schwab Challenge, Third Round (CBS)
  • 3:10 PM: MLB: Phillies at Braves (FS1)
  • 6:15 PM: MLB: Red Sox at Diamondbacks or Reds at Cubs or Cardinals at Guardians (FOX)
  • 7:00 PM: NHL: Stars at Golden Knights, Game 5 (ABC)
  • 7:30 PM: NBA: Celtics at Heat, Game 6 (TNT)
  • 9:00 PM: MLB: Marlins at Angels or Mets at Rockies (MLB Network)


SEC Baseball: Texas A&M 5, LSU 4.

MLB: Reds 9, Cubs 0 ... White Sox 12, Tigers 3 ... Rays 9, Dodgers 3 ... Padres 5, Yankees 1 ... Rangers 12, Orioles 2 ... Guardians 4, Cardinals 3 ... Phillies 6, Braves 4 ... Giants 15, Brewers 1 ... Blue Jays 3, Twins 1 ... Nationals 12, Royals 10 ... Mets 5, Rockies 2 ... Marlins 6, Angels 2 ... Red Sox 7, Diamondbacks 2 ... Astros 5, A’s 2 ... Pirates 11, Mariners 6.