SEC announces Future Football Schedule Format

By Kevin Kelley -

The SEC has announced that they will keep their eight-game, 6-1-1 format football schedule for the 2016 season and beyond.

This format keeps the cross-division, permanent rivals intact, which includes matchups such as Georgia-Auburn, Alabama-Tennessee, and Florida-LSU.

New to the SEC’s future football scheduling format is the addition of a “strength-of-schedule component that requires all schools to play an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 opponent on an annual basis.” It has been reported that this stipulation also includes Notre Dame.

“This has been a thoughtful and deliberative process that has resulted in maintaining the current format and adds a provision that will bolster our collective annual non-conference schedule,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. “Critical to maintaining this format is the non-conference opponent factor which gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences, and acknowledges that many of our institutions already play these opponents.

“The concept of strength-of-schedule is based on an entire 12-game schedule, a combination of both conference games together with non-conference games. Given the strength of our conference schedule supplemented by at least one major non-conference game, our teams will boast of a strong resume’ of opponents each and every year.”

Requiring one game against another Group of Five conference member was done in light of the upcoming College Football Playoff. The selection committee has stated that they will take into account strength of schedule during the process.

Four SEC schools already play annual rivalry games against teams from the ACC. Georgia plays Georgia Tech, South Carolina plays Clemson, Florida plays Florida State, and Kentucky plays Louisville.

Although the strength of schedule mandate doesn’t begin until 2016, there are seven other schools that will play a Group of Five team in 2014. Alabama faces West Virginia in Atlanta, Arkansas travels to Texas Tech, Auburn plays at Kansas State, LSU plays Wisconsin in Houston, Missouri hosts Indiana, and Tennessee plays at Oklahoma.

That leaves Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt as the only four SEC schools this season not to face a team from a Group of Five conference.

The SEC said today that their office will provide assistance in scheduling games against the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 going forward.

Is the eight-game schedule the correct move for the conference? They seem to think so. According to the SEC, this format allows a balanced league schedule for all teams (4 home, 4 away), accommodation of non-conference schedules by member schools, and the continuation of marquee neutral-site games.

As previously mentioned, the SEC will also keep their permanent cross-division rivals.

“Tradition matters in the SEC, and there is no denying that tradition was a significant factor in this decision because it protects several long-standing cross-division conference rivalries,” said Slive.  “It has been a hallmark of the SEC over our history to be able to make continued progress while also maintaining traditions important to our institutions.”

SEC Permanent Cross Division Rivalries

  • Alabama (west) vs. Tennessee (east)
  • Arkansas (west) vs. Missouri (east)
  • Auburn (west) vs. Georgia (east)
  • LSU (west) vs. Florida (east)
  • Ole Miss (west) vs. Vanderbilt (east)
  • Mississippi State (west) vs. Kentucky (east)
  • Texas A&M (west) vs. South Carolina (east)

Although some may feel that the SEC should have moved to a nine-game conference schedule, the addition of the “strength of schedule mandate” is a small step in the right direction. While most SEC schools already meet this mandate this season, they don’t always follow that format year-to-year.

And the SEC can always adjust their football scheduling format down the line if they continually don’t place two teams in the playoff, which is their goal.

Comments (37)

what a complete joke.

yep. a fan has to wait 12 years for his team to host and visit a teams stadium outside their division (other than their cross-division rival)

sissy mentality. shouldn’t require ONE OOC game, should be TWO if you are going to stick to 8.

some teams are just going to schedule someone like Kansas and then finish off the other 3 with lower FBS and FCS schools.

12 years before you see Bama and UGA visit each other’s stadiums

12 years before you see Florida and A&M visit each other’s stadiums

12 years before you see LSU and South Carolina visit each other’s stadiums

I guess if you like that idea, this 8 game schedule is good for you.

my team is not in the SEC, but I love watching SEC football, and I was looking forward to seeing more SEC games with this possible 9 game schedule. very disappointed, mostly cause I just love college football in general…

Georgia cancelled home-and-home with Oregon. LSU only willing to play Oregon in so-called neutral-site (Dallas). Alabama, Florida and Auburn avoids scheduling Oregon. Texas A&M tried to cancel series with the Ducks but Oregon refused. Although the Vols AD indicated possible cancellation of a return visit to Eugene, Tennessee self-respect remains in tact and followed through with home-and-home with Oregon.

LSU went to Oregon and kicked their butt. They then moved the home game from Tiger Stadium to Dallas for a “kick-off classic” TV game. They beat the Ducks in Dallas, also. How much more Tiger does Oregon want?

seriously how can you possibly say anything about LSU. Oregon is Oregon in the west coast league, in the SEC you would be Ole Miss at best

In 2014 Texas A&M non-conf schedule consists of SMU, Rice, ULM, Lamar. Vandy plays Temple, Mass, Old Dominion and Charleston. Miss St plays Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama and Tenn-Martin. Ol Miss’s highest quality non-conference game is Boise St in Atlanta. And for Missouri its highlight non-conference game is against Indiana. And for Kentucky it is Louisville.

Then all the other SEC programs, besides Georgia, play three non-conference games against weak “group of five” opponents.

The 2015 and 2016 SEC non-conference schedules are looking just as weak.

Way to go SEC.

Now the rush is on for SEC schools to get Kansas, Purdue, and Wazzu on their future schedules.What a joke!

Everyone jokes about the SEC adding Indiana, Kansas, Purdue, etc. to their schedules. So how does that make the Big 12 or Big Ten better because they have 9 games? They’re still playing Indiana, Kansas, Purdue, etc.

Kevin, it doesn’t make them better.

It just gives their conference a better format for deciding a champion. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if every team plays 9 games instead of 8 that we will get a better idea of who’s the best in the conference. 8 games means too much dodging. Like I said, TWELVE FULL YEARS to rotate an opponent from the other division (besides your cross division rival) to play at your home stadium and for you to play at theirs. For example, Florida plays LSU and Bama this year from the other division. What if Florida goes 6-0 against it’s division but loses both of those games to finish 6-2. Georgia plays Arkansas and Auburn and lets say they win both of those games and beat the rest of the East. They would win the division. They would earn it fair and square, I am not going to get into the schedule comparison because it will always shift and you never know who is going to be up that season. But my point is, a 9th game would give both of these teams one more conference game in determining who wins that division. The more teams you play, the more you know about who is the best in the conference. When you don’t play almost half of your conference EVER yet play the same 7 teams every year, there is no variety in conference matchup’s. In conclusion, most of us fans just want to see more SEC matchup’s and we were robbed of that possibility yesterday.

Travis…If Florida goes 6-2 with the two losses being against the West, they don’t necessarily win the East. West games count too!

The SEC could really do something radical and challenge the scheduling of the other conferences. First expand to 16 teams by adding Cincinnati and East Carolina. This would also bolster the SEC Network adding the state of Ohio and North Carolina to SEC territory. Move Missouri to the west division and put the 2 new teams in the east. Then expand to a 10 game conference schedule.Both od these schools have better football than Kentucky and have solid basketball programs.

ECU might not be a bad addition to the SEC but I would rather see what they can do in the AAC first before speculating and as for Cincy… they would be torn to pieces in the SEC. Instead of Cincinnati I would throw in UCF and see what they could do and have them play Florida every year. The thing is no one has respect for the AAC I mean just look how ESPN treated UCF before the Fiesta Bowl. The SEC would never pick up teams from the American conference unless the top dogs from that conference keep having winning seasons and big wins vs quality opponents and even then it probably wouldn’t happen.

Maybe RB thinks they should add Stony Brook, Eastern Michigan, and San Jose State also so the SEC Network can add the New York, Detroit and SF markets?

Except for the corner where Cincinnati is, no one in Ohio cares about UC. And the Cinci market already will get the SEC Network because of their proximity to Kentucky. Same thing with ECU. With all the other schools to root for in the state; hardly anyone in the 3 biggest TV markets, Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro will want to watch ECU anyway.

Look at Bill the noob trying to be funny and failing….but to answer Kevin’s question….the reason people ridicule the SEC scheduling Kansas,Purdue,etc….is because the SEC claims it’s that much better but rarely will go to a another power to prove it. Watching the SEC cancel games vs. Oregon,never leaving Florida or playing “neutral” site games is just weak. They need to man up,do home and always ( and honor them) and do it against teams like Oregon,USC and Ohio St. Until then….this is what you are going to hear every year…..

Bill, I’m an ECU alum. I think the idea of ECU being in the SEC is absurd, and will never happen. I’m not even going to try to defend that nonsense.

Having said that, you’re completely wrong when you say the Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro TV markets don’t care about ECU football. I doubt that comment was based on any kind of fact at all. Did you know that the 2009 Liberty Bowl in which ECU played Kentucky was the 3rd highest rated ESPN bowl ever in the Charlotte TV market at that time? (1/2/09, East Carolina/Kentucky, 2.5 mtrd mkt rtg) Charlotte DMA = 9.4, third-highest rated bowl game in Charlotte on ESPN/ESPN2 on record. The highest-rated game is the Meineke Bowl where West Virginia played North Carolina (12/27/08) with a 10.7. The second highest-rated was Clemson/Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (12/31/07) with a 9.7. Additionally, ECU has had numerous neutral games in Charlotte, and never has trouble selling tickets. To say that no one in NC cares about ECU football with UNC and NC State in their backyard is very wrong.

I’d just like to remind you of three facts:

Last Meeting on Sept 28, 2013 – East Carolina 55, North Carolina 31
Last Meeting on November 23, 2013 – East Carolina 42, NC State 28
The Pirates won both of those games on the road.

But Bill, I don’t fault you for making that assumption. Most folks see UNC, Duke, NC State, and Wake as the premier schools in the state, and think ECU is just some regional small school. As Pirates, we’ve fought that battle time and time again. It’s frustrating, but it’s given us a chip on our shoulders that has helped us succeed. Just an FYI, ECU is second (only to BYU) in attendance of football schools not in the Power 5 Conferences. ECU football average attendance was approximately 45.000 last season, which is much higher than Duke and Wake. In fact, ECU averaged more fans than Illinois, Maryland, and Oregon State last season. If ECU was good enough for Sandra Bullock, it ought to be good enough for you. Go Pirates!

ecu would make more sense that cincy .Cincy would just become what Kentucky is now a few 6-6/7-5 season with maybe an upset over one of the big boys every now and then

this is good news for Savannah St., Western Carolina, etc., as they’ll still get to play Auburn, Alabama, etc, in week #11…..and get the $$

Expected. SEC is not going to jeopardize having 1 or 2 teams in playoffs each year because of something as insignificant as quality schedules. Too much money to lose, so this type of scheduling was expected to continue!

The SEC in my mind should never be playing an FCS team (except maybe North Dakota State) and with the 8 conference game format they should play 2 power conference teams for their non-conference games. I say this only because if you’re the strongest conference in college football what does beating weak opponents prove? What is there to truly gain? The level of competition should be high if you want to stay at the top besides just have 2 easier games such as vs the Sun-belt, MAC, MWC, C-USA or just have 1 and then have a wild card game vs an independent team like BYU or vs an AAC team and see what they’re made of.

I find it so interesting that people want to rag on the SEC’s OOC scheduling when the SEC schedules the toughest OOCs out of every conference. In about every kickoff there’s been for the past couple of years, an SEC team was in it. The Cowboys Classic didn’t receive the level of esteem it has now until they started scheduling SEC teams. Sure they play weak opponents, but what school doesn’t play weaker opponents on a consistent basis?

Listen, you are not incorrect. The SEC does a good job of making sure most of it’s teams are in ONE big game OOC. But that’s all you’re going to get for most of the teams. After that, we got 3 really easy victories. It’s also not just the SEC that does this (Look at TTU for years, Baylor currently)

That’s why 9 games was so important. Gives these AD’s less control over who they can schedule. With less control, you’ll see more competitive match-up’s. With AD’s having more control, you’ll see more easier victories.

Also look at some teams this year (A&M, MSST, MIZZ, VAN) you should be ashamed of yourselves for that kind of scheduling. This example is what gives the fans this mentality that the SEC schedules weak OOC.

Its not that fans want to see more conference games, they want to see better ooc games. Do they really think Alabama fans want to see FL Atl, Southern Miss, & Western Carolina this year? One can make exceptions if the games are against somebody in their geographic area/ state. None of these teams are in the state of Alabama. Each game is the equivalent of preseason football. They are frankly just ripping off their fans. Its schedule manipulation to drive their rankings higher like a boxer would to try to get a title shot. They even schedule one of these games every year in November. They should never play FCS programs. That is just awful for college football. Play all FBS schools and at least half of ooc have to be Power 5.

I think it would be great if the Power 5 conference chooses another Power 5 conference each year to play. Call it the Conference Challenge and get sponsors on board. Each school would be required to play somebody in that designated conference. They could schedule the games to ensure each of their tv networks gets equal amount of the games. Fans would love such matchups as Bama vs USC, Auburn vs Oregon, FL vs Stanford, TAMU vs WASU etc. The following year all the teams play a different conference.
Thats how to build a brand and create army of fans for college football. These schools have a micro vision mentality with macro vision revenue desires. Better games equal higher interest= higher tv viewership= higher ad rates= higher tv contracts. How does playing Western Carolina help future tv contracts?

They also could easily fix their conference scheduling. Play division teams, rivalries, and the rest being order of finish from the previous year to match up. One thing one can depend on in college football is to complicate easy solutions.

if the sec expanded it would be from a pool of these Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, UNC, UVA, NC State, Virginia Tech I could see where maybe we take just one from each conference kind of a compromise deal if one doesn’t come with their rival then we move on to the other conference for #16

I don’t think any conference with a championship game should have a 9 game conf schedule. You add that extra regular season conf game, you vastly increase the chances of a rematch in the champ game. And I don’t think we really want that, do we? Otherwise, as we in the SEC have experienced as it is, you get the argument of “We’ve already beaten them, why do we have to play them again?”

And as for Ricky’s apparent desire for Oregon to play and SEC team every year, and therefore become an honorary SEC member, enough is enough. I’m personally kind of tired of Oregon being on an SEC schedule. Here’s a novel idea, let’s play someone else, like say, Oregon St. :) While we’re at it, let’s have a rotation. With the “Big 5 mandate” the SEC has taken a step in that direction. If you have 8 conf games on a 12 game schedule, that leaves you with 4 non-conf games. 1 game vs a team from the “Big 5” (including Notre Dame with the ACC) and rotate those teams (and it would include Oregon), 1 game vs the what I’ll consider “mid-major” conferences (AAC, C-USA, MWC, and BYU, maybe), then 1 game vs the MAC and Sunbelt. And again, rotate who you play in each of those categories, so that eventually you play everbody. That leaves 1 game for an FCS school, which I am fine with. It helps both sides. It allows the big school to have a tune-up game before a big game and allows you to get back-ups valuable playing time. It allows the small school to collect the money that a lot of them need from these kind of games to keep their program afloat. And, if they pull the upset, they get recognized for years to come (i.e. App St over Michigan). This model would also make the schedule easier to create.

Now what could be wrong with that? If all the Big 5 conferences follow that model, then everybody’s non-conf schedule is basically the same, which it pretty much already is. With few exceptions, everyone plays an FCS school, everyone plays 2 or 3 games from categories 2 and 3 and some play a game every year vs the Big 5. So, let’s structure it better and get some better and/or unique matchups.

LSU has played at Washington and Arizona recently and is contracted to play at Arizona St and UCLA in the future. I can’t speak for other SEC schools, but your implication about LSU’s willingness to play teams on the West Coast is dead wrong.

Here is how we fix this. Go to a 9 game schedule move Bama and Auburn to the East so they can keep their big games Bama-Tenn, Auburn-Georgia, and of course the Iron Bowl.

I would rather see Missouri moved to the west, where they are geo-physically, and move Bama to the east to support their permanent love-fest with UT-k’s big stadium and terrible teams. End all the hard-wired “rivalry” games, and make all the teams play two different teams each year from the other division. Are we supposed to believe that people wont buy tickets to see out of division games?

Auburn has tried to schedule Home & Home’s with both Michigan & Notre Dame in the past the irish wanted both on neutral fields one in the colts stadium the other in Atlanta. not sure what happened with Michigan . the 2007 game we had against Kansas State was supposed to be Oregon State but the beavers wanted a return trip to their place in 08. so we said no but we still had to give K-State a return trip as you see on our schedule this year. we also tried to schedule Home & Homes with Boston College & Virginia Tech . I think the hokies backed out due to scheduling conflicts as for BC not sure what happened there. the 2005 beatdown we gave western Kentucky could’ve been a more competitive game against fresno state but the bulldogs called as soon as the western Kentucky game was finalized

I think ECU would be a great addition to the SEC, cincy not so much. Ecu would expand SEC to North Carolina, and living In North Carolina I see just as many ECU fans as state and UNC, and
Far MORE than wake forest. Ecu, already being a decent team, would also get much better as good local players may choose ECU solely for being in the SEC, over state or chapel hill, similar to how players will choose USC over Clemson for that sole reason.