SEC will go to nine-game schedule


 The SEC spent four days last week in Destin discussing future scheduling possibilities in football, but could not reach a consensus or a decision about what the format should be starting in 2016.

But after being around the coaches, athletic directors, presidents and league commissioner Mike Slive all last week, it seems pretty obvious where the league is headed with this. The coaches aren’t going to like it, but it appears inevitable that the league is going to go to a nine-game SEC schedule starting in 2016.

The coaches obviously don’t want it — other than Alabama’s Nick Saban, an advocate of the nine-game schedule. Last week, 13 of the 14 coaches said their ideal format would to stick with the eight-game schedule with two cross-division rotating games.

The ADs and presidents will listen to the coaches and consider their reasons for wanting to stay at eight. And even some of the presidents and ADs likely will side with the coaches and push for eight games.

But here’s the bottom line on this: ESPN is going to want a nine-game SEC schedule in the future to help feed the new SEC Network. And what ESPN wants, ESPN gets when it comes to college football.

I hate to agree with ESPN on this, but going to a nine-game schedule just makes more sense, given the fact the league has expanded to 14 teams. Yes, I know, the league is tough enough as it is with eight SEC games, but that leaves too many holes in the schedule and those holes are being filled with inferior competition, leading to those late-season non-conference games that no one really cares to watch.

Saban made a great point last week when stating his case for a nine-game schedule. Saban said the league needs to consider the fans when making decisions like this one.

“One of these days, they’re going to quit coming to the games because they’re going to stay at home and watch it on TV,” Saban said. “Everybody’s going to say, ‘Why don’t you come to the games?’ Well, if you’d play somebody good, then we’d come to the games. That should be the first consideration. Nobody’s considering them.”

So, let’s consider the fans and go ahead and start playing that nine-game schedule in 2016.


  1. “Yes, I know, the league is tough enough as it is with eight SEC games, but that leaves too many holes in the schedule and those holes are being filled with inferior competition, leading to those late-season non-conference games that no one really cares to watch.”… We’re still playing 12 regular season games, right?? How is keeping the same format going to increase holes in the schedule?? Unless they’re thinking about getting rid of the ‘bye’ week…

  2. I agree with Robbie that a 9 game schedule is inevitable for all of the right reasons. I also understand how the coaches feel about another week of SEC pounding. Kevin has a verygood point that we will probably eventually see 16 teams. ESPN is simply too poerful, and the academic side of universities will be second in most conferences. Title IX mandating the support of women sports demands dollars which is justified. Thus, athletic departments need the $$. Coaches salaries are also absurb, but it is a free market industry with college football and mens basketball which are the money makers.

  3. I have always thought they should rotate both non-division games instead of playing LSU every year. It will get more West teams to the Swamp and we get to see some great teams that normally we don’t except in the SEC Championship game.

  4. I can see why Saban favors a 9 game schedule – hell, they have one of the weakest schedules, year in and year out; so, why wouldn’t Saban want more of it? Make Bamer play Florida, LSU, Jawja, USCe, Tennessee and Texas A&M every year and Saban’s tune would change. There’s years where Florida will play LSU, Bamer, Jawja, USCe, Tenn. & FSU. Hopefully, they will drop LSU from being a permanent game, since there will be a playoff and rotate with other western teams. I want to play the best; however, only if everyone else is doing the same.

  5. Lets just admit this game is changing for better or for worse driven by TV revenue. I am fine with it personally, but to pull this off there needs to be some cost. That cost is the long standing rivalry games (Tenn / Bama UGA / Auburn). For the sake of money (though Foley has said he would keep it) I can not see the benefit both economically and practically to keep FSU on the schedule should a ninth game be added.

  6. Saban has no beef with nine conference games because Bama’s traditional opponent is Auburn. It makes it tougher for UF, UGA and S. Carolina because they play F$U, Ga Tech, Clemson. So an easier path for the Tide. Saban’s astute, shrewd. Breaking apart the LSU/UF annual arrangement will help both the Tigers and our Gators. Nine games are inevitable.

  7. Since UF-LSU is not really a “traditional” rivalry, just one mandated by the SEC to create a tough game annually for the fans, UF and LSU should refuse to support a 9 game schedule unless we drop “permanent non-division opponents”. As SOS said, that’s the only fair schedule. I know Miles already wants that.

  8. Clearly the SEC is looking to go to a 16 team league with 4 divisions of 4 teams each. You play the other 3 teams in your division each year plus 2 teams from each other division on a rotation basis.

  9. The fixed, cross-division rival was set up to preserve long-standing rivalries Auburn-Georgia & Alabama-Tenn, nothing more. It had nothing to do with UF-LSU. In fact UF’s long standing cross division rival is Auburn. But Auburn-Georgia was a stronger rivalry so we got left with second best, LSU. Check the history. It is a rivalry now and I like playing them every year, however…

    Every year, with changes made for TV we get closer and closer to the pro game (which I hate). Every year we get farther and farther away from the “student” part of student-athlete. I am loosing interest in this free-for-all money grab. One would think the university president’s and AD’s would stand up to this. But I guess it is all about the Benjamins.

  10. When the 9 SEC game schedule starts, Gators should schedule alternate dates with FSU & Miami…..example
    2016 @ FSU
    2017 Miami, home
    2018 FSU, home
    2019 @ Miami
    Etc, etc…this way we get to,play Miami & FSU on a regular basis.
    Bag the rival LSU game, alternate West teams like the others.

    My .02……..

    Go Gators!

  11. The problem I see is that there are going to be years in which they only have 4 conference home games and 5 on the road. Will there be more neutral sight games? A lot of revenue is generated from paying a cupcake $250,000 but having it as another home game and thee ticket sales and concessions more than make up for that.

  12. 9 games, with 6 Eastern Division opponents mandatory & 3 for Western Division opponents sounds reasonable when you consider the ‘strength of schedules’ will be a determining factor when the ‘new’ CFA FINAL FOUR PLAY-OFF starts after the 2013 season.
    Florida plays F.S.U. every year, which is favorable for Florida in that department, & the S.E.C.’s new network with ESPN helps the 9 game scheduling, too.
    I look forward it to it all! And, when it all ‘goes down’, there will hopefully only be 2 subsidy games for the Gators each season, like a Micanopy Tech & Northwestern Jackson State, etc… which is getting more and more unappealing. So, bring on 9 SEC games and bring on a tougher non-conference schedule… and watch it all pay-off on selection Sunday when the mystery panel picks the 1st CFA FINAL 4!

  13. I hate to say it but I agree with Saban. In fact I think we should keep FSU and add Miami to the schedule. I would have the cupcake game for homecoming. Having a strong schedule pays off dividends in the long run.

  14. The only flaw in Sabans argument is that we also need to place emphasis on the PLAYERS as well. A soft opponent in the mix allows for teams in our league to regroup and heal from the brutal schedules they play. Not to mention, it offers the opportunity for no-starters to play in lieu of becoming unfulfilled bench warmers.