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April 27, 2014
Eight is enough
Southeastern Conference football schedules won't be changing after all.
The league on Sunday revealed that it will continue forward with 8-game conference schedules, which include dates against all six divisional opponents, one permanent cross-division partner and a final spot dedicated to a rotation of other cross-division opponents.
That means Georgia will remain on Auburn's schedule indefinitely.
Some coaches and administrators vocally had argued that a 9-game schedule made more sense given the league's recent addition of Texas A&M and Missouri. A vote among all 14 league institutions showed majority support for the status quo, though a new provision requires all SEC teams to play at least one game each season against a program from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big 10 Conference or the Pac-12 Conference.
"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," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "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."
Though the out-of-conference provision doesn't take effect until the 2016 season, Auburn already is following the SEC's lead. The Tigers will play at Kansas State this fall and will open the 2015 season against Louisville, which joins the ACC later this year.
The SEC has pledged to help member schools find suitable out-of-conference matchups.
Other permanent cross-division games include:
Not everyone was thrilled with the conference's decision. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva decried the 6-1-1 model, saying the permanent cross-divisional matchups aren't equitable.
"Very disappointed leaders of the SEC disregard competitive advantage that permanent partners award to certain schools," Alleva told the Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge. "We share all the revenue and expenses yet we cannot have a balanced, fair, equitable schedule. LSU has played Florida and Georgia 19 times since 2000 and (Alabama) has played them eight times. Is that fair?"
Interestingly, Alabama coach Nick Saban advocated a new, 9-game schedule.