Will the SEC move to a nine-game Conference football schedule?

By Kevin Kelley -

SECWith the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC in 2012, there is a possibility that the conference will move to a nine-game conference schedule in the future. But could it be as soon as the 2012 season?

South Carolina President Harris Pastides thinks so. On Sunday, Pastides told the Daily Gamecock that the SEC will play nine conference football games each year. That means each SEC team would play six games from their division, one permanent crossover game and two rotating games from the opposite division.

Not only does that scenario strengthen the schedules of most SEC teams, but it also causes a problem with currently scheduled future non-conference games. Georgia, for example, already has four non-conference games scheduled for 2012, 2013 and 2014. One of those would have to be canceled each year.

Then there’s the buyout for those games. Sticking with our example of Georgia, the Bulldogs would have to pay a minimum of $475,000 (Georgia Southern) and a maximum of $900,000 (South Alabama) to cancel a game.

This morning, Matt Hayes of the Sporting News expanded on the nine-game story by reporting that the “…SEC will reimburse schools for lost money due to eliminating non-conference games already contracted.”

But early this afternoon, the SEC quickly squashed all of the nine-game conference schedule rumors for the time being. Charles Bloom, head of public relations for the SEC office tweeted “SEC will continue to play eight conference games in football. There has been no discussions on nine game schedule.”

This falls in line with what UGA Athletics Director Greg McGarity said in late September, although it was prior to Missouri joining. He said that he doesn’t “…forsee a nine-game schedule happening.” McGarity went on to say “I fully expect to play every one of our nonconference opponents on the Saturdays we have fully executed contracts with.”

As a fan of the SEC, I like the idea of one additional conference game. It would provide some better match-ups on the field. However, it would also make schedules tougher by lessening the number of “buy” games that each school currently has. That could make the path to the BCS National Championship Game tougher than it already is in the SEC.

Update: As one of our astute readers pointed out, the Big Ten plans to move to a nine-game conference schedule by 2017. Seems the SEC could follow this path, but they have two more conference members.

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