The SEC has approved the 6-1-1 football schedule format for the foreseeable future, Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley announced today.
SEC presidents and athletics directors have been debating the future football schedule format this week at their Spring meetings in Destin, Florida.
The 6-1-1 format means that each SEC team will play six inter-division games, one permanent cross-division game, and one rotating cross-division game. That’s an 8-game SEC schedule, which the conference has played since splitting into divisions in 1992.
Beginning in 2013, each team will play the cross-division rotating team in succession, rather than playing home-and-home. In this scenario, each SEC team will play all of the other teams in the opposite division in six years rather than twelve.
Other options were a 6-0-2 format (six division games, no permanent cross-division games, two rotating cross-division games) and a 6-1-2 format (six division games, one permanent cross-division game, two rotating cross-division games). The latter would have required the SEC to play a nine-game conference schedule, but was met with resistance by several schools.
The schools most likely against a nine-game schedule are Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The natural rival for each of them lies out of conference (ACC) and they play yearly. Auburn President Jay Gogue said today that could put each of them at a “competitive disadvantage.”
The other issue is the yearly Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville. If the game were to remain at that site in a nine-game SEC environment, the Gators and Bulldogs would only have three SEC home games every other season.
How long will the SEC stick with the 6-1-1 format? SEC commissioner Mike Slive said today that the 6-1-1 will continue for at least the next 3-4 years, maybe longer.
Also confirmed today were the SEC permanent cross-division rivals. Arkansas will no longer play South Carolina on a yearly basis. Instead, the Razorbacks get Missouri while the Gamecocks will face Texas A&M. Here’s a look at the complete pairings (East – West):