SEC commissioner Mike Slive hopes to have the future football schedule for the conference set by late-May, he told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
Slive and the 14 SEC athletic directors discussed the issue earlier this month in Nashville at the women’s basketball tournament and then the following week in New Orleans at the men’s tournament.
Here is the question posed and the answer Slive provided regarding the football schedule:
Q: How have the future football scheduling (for 2013 and beyond) meetings progressed with the league’s athletic directors?
A: “The First Amendment is alive and well in the SEC. When we put together this year’s 2012 schedule including our two new members, time was of the essence. It was very complicated, and I was proud that every athletic director had to give something. It wasn’t easy, but in the final analysis, we got it scheduled.
“Looking ahead, each institution is trying to figure out how to protect their interests, but also what’s in the best interest of the league to help us maintain the success we’ve had. Some rivalries have been lost nationwide in expansion, and we value rivalries. Protecting rivalries is something we clearly want to do. Our goal is get the scheduling done before Destin (at the annual SEC spring business meetings in late May).”
Although no public decision has been made yet, it appears that the SEC is favoring keeping an 8-game conference schedule with protected cross-division rivals.
Shortly after the meeting in Nashville, South Carolina president Harris Pastides said that Texas A&M is their “likely” new cross-division rival. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin followed that with the tweet “Just had a great conversation with the South Carolina president about our permanent SEC rivalry.”
Keeping the 8-game conference schedule with protected cross-division rivals (6-1-1 format) would allow historical rivalries to continue, such as Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. It could also create a new rivalry with border states Arkansas and Missouri.
If the SEC adopts the 8-game slate and 6-1-1 format going forward, it will take 12 years for each team to play every other team from the opposite division. That is, unless they decide to play each cross-division team in succession rather than home-and-home. Then it would take only six years.