The SEC has been debating moving to a nine-game conference football schedule or remaining at eight games for what seems like a few years now.
But the discussion will finally be over in May by the time the SEC Spring meetings in Destin occur, SEC commissioner Mike Slive told AL.com.
“The important thing is we’ve got a target that we have to shoot for,” Slive said. “The conversation does get all over the place, but the timeframe is finite, not infinite.”
Both the nine-game schedule and permanent rival issues are being reviewed in preparation for the SEC Network, which launches on August 14, 2014, and the new College Football Playoff after the conclusion of the 2014 regular-season.
The SEC is committed to an eight-game, 6-1-1 format schedule through the 2015 season. The 2015 SEC football schedule is also set for release around the same time, according to UGA athletics director Greg McGarity.
For 2016 and beyond, most SEC athletic directors and coaches favor remaining with an eight-game schedule and allowing schools to schedule tougher in the non-conference at their own discretion.
But with the College Football Playoff right around the corner, the SEC is getting outside pressure to play a nine-game conference schedule as two other “Group of Five” conferences already do — Big 12 and Pac-12. The Big Ten moves to nine-games in 2016.
The final decision, Mike Slive said, will be made by presidents and chancellors in concert with their athletic directors.
As previously mentioned, the permanent rivals are also being reviewed. However, the feeling now is that those rivals will remain in place.
LSU athletics director Joe Alleva said he believes only LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina are in favor of making the permanent cross-division rivals more balanced. LSU’s annual rival is Florida.
“If I’m at a school with a permanent opponent that I like and it’s easier than playing Alabama, LSU or Auburn, why would I want to change?” said Alleva. “You vote for your best interests, which is contrary to what this league usually does. Everybody is supposed to vote for the best interests of the league. I think we’ll probably keep permanent opponents because nobody will have the guts to change it.”