Back in April, the SEC announced that they were keeping their eight-game, 6-1-1 format football schedule for the 2016 season and beyond.
In a press release, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive noted that the “concept of strength of schedule is based on an entire 12-game schedule” and that teams in their conference will “boast of a strong resume’ of opponents each and every year.”
At the start of the 2014 SEC Football Media Days today in Hoover, Alabama, Slive again pointed to the strength of the SEC as the primary reason for keeping eight games rather than expanding to nine.
“As you know, we spent a great deal of time this past year reviewing the conference’s football scheduling format. In May we announced we will continue with the current eight‑game conference schedule,” Slive said. “The strength and depth of the SEC was certainly a determining factor in this decision since the concept of strength of schedule is based on the entire 12‑game schedule.”
The entire 12-game schedule is what will be looked at by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, as executive director Bill Hancock stated recently.
“To the selection committee, whether a conference plays eight or nine games is inconsequential,” Hancock said. “What matters is – don’t just quote me on that, add the next sentence – what matters is everybody’s schedule as a whole, all 12 or 13 games.”
Since the SEC is touting their strength from top to bottom and keeping the eight-game format, it’s imperative that their teams also play a tough non-conference schedule.
To that end, the SEC also mandated that beginning with the 2016 season, all conference members must play at least one non-conference game against a member from a Power Five conference or Notre Dame.
Most SEC teams, however, already fulfill that requirement with their annual rivalry games. Georgia plays Georgia Tech, Florida plays Florida State, South Carolina plays Clemson, and so on.
But it has influenced schools to reach out and grab even more tough opponents when possible. In just over two months since the mandate was issued, SEC teams have scheduled the following games:
- Georgia – vs. Notre Dame in 2017 and 2019
- Mississippi State – vs. Arizona in 2022-23
- Mississippi State – vs. NC State in 2020-21
- Mississippi State – vs. Kansas State in 2018-19 (tentative)
- Missouri – vs. Purdue in 2017-18
Several other great matchups have been rumored, including Alabama-USC, LSU-Miami (FL), and Texas A&M-Texas Tech.
Slive mentioned some of those matchups today, although some were scheduled before the strength of schedule mandate was announced.
“So supplementing our traditional and existing non‑conference rivalry games, our schools have scheduled games with Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Arizona, just to name a few,” Slive said.
Here’s hoping the SEC schools continue to add more good non-conference games in the future.