The league on Sunday decided to maintain an eight-game football schedule (six division rivals, and one permanent and one rotating) for the foreseeable future, CBSSports.com has learned. The league announced the schedule commitment at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Slive said he's sensitive to the arguments against eight games -- mainly, how it fares in the playoff era. If the ACC decides on nine games in the future, the SEC would be the lone power conference playing eight. "One thing about the SEC is it has always marched to its own drummer," Slive said.
All 14 teams are required to play at least one opponent from the four other power conferences (and Notre Dame would fulfill that requirement), which most SEC schools already do, while keeping a 6-1-1 format inside the league (six divisional games, one permanent crossover, one rotating crossover).
"There may be a perception that eight is as good as nine, but when you analyze nad rationalize it, I think we are in a good position given our conference schedule," Slive said. "Given the fact half of the league is already playing nine (with end-of-season rivalries), it didn't require an additional action."
The SEC also maintained permanent crossover rivalries such as Georgia-Auburn, Alabama-Tennessee and Florida-LSU.
First off, I disagree with sticking with the 8 game schedule. There's got to be a way to have a 9 game conference schedule and keep the cross divisional rivalries intact, which should be kept at all costs. (6 divisional games, 1 permanent cross divisional rival, 2 rotating?)
I'm not really sure why the SEC is digging their heels into the ground with 8 games but it seems like unless the ACC goes to 9 games, we'll have an 8 game schedule for the foreseeable future.
TSK had this to say about the announcement:
Reading over the press release, this decision basically came down to two things. One, most schools didn't like the idea of having some years with five conference road games and only four conference home games. Two, in the words of the press release, there are "varying institutional non-conference scheduling philosophies". Which is to say, the schools that are often borderline bowl teams don't want extra losses to knock them out of the postseason with a ninth league game.
Now, let's get to the good stuff.
Alleva said the decision was locked in for 6-to-8 years and means LSU will continue to play Florida, a perennially top-ranked program, which won two BCS titles since 2006.
He pointed out that since 2000 LSU has played Florida and Georgia, another league powerhouse, 19 times, and Alabama has played them eight times. "That is a competitive disadvantage," he said. "There are a lot of other examples."
The good news is that our old friend is back at it again complaining about playing UF every year (A team that has lost 19 games since 2010 #narrative). I get it, he only has a few more years to really make his point since Tennessee is on the rise and once they do become a top 25 team again, his argument becomes null and void (if it's not already). So make your argument while you can, I guess. The thing I'm really waiting for is Florida to start complaining about having to play LSU every year because that would certainly help Alleva out. However, my advice to Joe is, don't hold your breath.
I do agree with Alleva on one point — the league does seem to schedule 'Bama with easier cross divisional games but we already tackled this issue last November in a Closer Look: How Unfair is the SEC Schedule?
My point is that, outside of the bridge scheduling, LSU's major complaint (playing UF every year isn't fair when compared to Alabama playing Tennessee) is 100% due to the natural cycle of football and not the SEC picking on LSU. (I don't see them complaining this year since UK rolled onto their schedule.)
And after this year, Alabama will have played UF three times and LSU will have evened out the UK/Vandy unfairness to four a piece.
In the end, what really muddied the water was the SEC expanding to 14 teams which proved that more actually means less because at this point 'Bama will be play USC/UGA/UF/UK etc once every 12 years or so. What the SEC should do (or should have done) is kick a couple teams to the curb (sorry Arkansas, USCe, A&M, Mizzou) and go to a round robin format (something the Pac-10 had to their advantage before their expansion to 12 teams).
Of course, that will never happen unless college football is turned upside down and the super conferences actually come into existence.