SEC vote on future schedule format stalled
By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Juliet Brown
The 2023 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings kicked off Tuesday in Destin, Fla. The annual gathering features the SEC’s presidents, athletic directors, head football and basketball coaches, and more. One of the key topics of this year’s meetings is the debate surrounding the future of SEC football schedules.
SEC teams currently play eight conference games, but SEC athletic directors are looking at possibly expanding conference games to a long-term, nine-game model. In the new format, each team would play three permanent opponents and six rotating opponents. While a vote for the long-term proposal could happen as early as Thursday, it is very unlikely one would occur. All 14 conference presidents would need to approve the vote Friday.
If the SEC doesn’t vote for the long-term model, a short-term solution would be adopted. That solution would consist of eight games with one permanent rival and seven rotating opponents, beginning in 2024. The current East and West divisions will be eliminated in 2024 when Texas and Oklahoma join the conference.
There are many other factors to account for when picking which format to go with. The College Football Playoff expands to a 12-game format in 2024. The CFP committee hasn’t announced how much it will weigh strength of schedule in the new format. Should the SEC adopt the 9-game model, it could make getting to the CFP even harder for some SEC teams. There’s also TV contracts to consider. The SEC’s deal with CBS expires in 2024 which means the conference will have an exclusive contract with ESPN. An extra conference game would mean more money. Finally, teams would have to rework the nonconference games.
“I think one of the more difficult things with going to nine games is we’ve tried to schedule two out-of-conference, Power 5 games to try to improve our strength of schedule,” Alabama football head coach Nick Saban said.
A lot to sort through over the next couple days, but the most likely outcome is tabling the 9-game format for another year and going with the short-term option.