SEC fans will reportedly be getting more conference games when Texas and Oklahoma officially join the conference in the coming years.
The Athletic’s Andy Staples reported on Monday that moving to a 9-game conference schedule is “one of the possibilities the league will consider as it works to assimilate Oklahoma and Texas”.
This feels like a formality at this point. I don’t think there’s any way the SEC could expand to a 16 team league and play only eight conference games.
As Staples pointed out on Monday, the current SEC scheduling setup has grown stale.
Tennessee, for instance, plays every team in the SEC East and their permanent SEC West crossover rival (which is Alabama) on a yearly basis. That leaves only one other game to be scheduled (for the Vols in 2021, that game is Ole Miss). As a result, teams in the SEC East and SEC West rarely play each other.
(Staples noted that when Alabama plays Florida in 2021, it will be the first time the Crimson Tide have visited Gainesville since 2011.)
Even with a 9-game conference schedule, there would still be teams that don’t play each other that often.
So what’s the best solution?
Staples actually presented an option that I think would be perfect. He suggested each team having three permanent opponents that they play each season.
For Tennessee, Staples suggests Alabama, Florida, and Vanderbilt (you can check out his full proposal and column here).
In this setup, the other 12 SEC opponents would rotate through twice every four years (which means every kid who played four years at a program would likely get to play in every SEC stadium).
This would eliminate yearly games between Tennessee and Georgia, or Tennessee and Kentucky, etc. But it would give fans an opportunity to see Tennessee and the SEC West opponents play on a semi-regular basis.
There’s really no perfect solution here — beyond a wild 15 games schedule (which obviously is never going to happen). But this proposal from Staples might be the best option as we enter into a new era of the SEC.
Featured image via Caitie McMekin/Pool via News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services/Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports