Friday, May 31, 2013
SEC staying at eight for two more years
By Chris Low
To nobody's surprise, the SEC has decided to stick with eight conference games for 2014 and 2015, but the presidents and chancellors will then review future scheduling beginning in 2016.
The translation: By 2016, the SEC will be playing nine conference games.
That was the vibe all week at the SEC spring meetings in talking with coaches and athletic directors, and it's clear that SEC commissioner Mike Slive wants to see schools upgrade their schedules. Slive was careful not to come out and say it, but most in and around the league agree that he's in favor of going to nine conference games.
And, typically, what Slive wants, he gets.
He was on the record this week as saying that he's communicated very clearly to SEC schools that he wants to see them schedule more attractive nonconference games. Down the road, what you're probably going to see is SEC schools playing nine conference games and then one marquee game out of conference.
Or as Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said, "Ten good games."
But in the short term, what's it all mean in terms of who will play whom?
The format will remain 6-1-1. Schools will play everybody in their division, one permanent cross-divisional opponent and one rotating cross-divisional opponent.
A few of the permanent opponents will change. For example, South Carolina and Texas A&M will be paired up, while Arkansas and Missouri will be paired up. In the past, Arkansas and South Carolina were permanent cross-divisional foes.
At least through 2015, LSU and Florida will continue to play every year as permanent cross-divisional foes. LSU has been pushing to do away with permanent cross-divisional opponents and wants to see everybody play two rotating opponents from the other division. LSU coach Les Miles argues that doing it that way makes the schedule more balanced for everybody in the league.
To his point, in their last 10 meetings, both Florida and LSU were ranked in the top 25 of the coaches' poll nine times.
Slive said the 2014 schedule would be released in a matter of weeks.
The league had already approved a rotation based on a 6-1-1 format through 2026. As part of that rotation, Alabama is scheduled to face Georgia in 2014 and Florida in 2015.
Also, the Alabama versus Tennessee and Auburn versus Georgia rivalries will continue to be played on a yearly basis, at least until the league reassesses its scheduling beginning in 2016.