It seems like the new football schedule format for the newly expanded Southeastern Conference has taken longer to shake out than conference expansion itself.
SEC officials and commissioners have been meeting on the subject for months now, beginning with face-to-face talks in early March at the SEC women’s basketball tournament in Nashville.
Deliberate steps are to be expected, but the clock is ticking, and not knowing what the schedule format will be beyond 2012 (a temporary solution is in place this season) is hamstringing teams trying to line up non-conference foes.
But there is apparently news on the horizon. SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said Thursday that the conference will likely unveil its new football schedule format at the SEC Spring Meeting, May 29-June 1 in Destin, Fla.
The guess here is it will be a Version 2.0 of this season’s 6-1-1 format. Teams will continue to play all the teams in their division, a permanent opponent from the opposite division, plus one rotating opponent from the opposite division.
This was basically confirmed by Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, who tweeted in March that the Aggies are stoked about having South Carolina as their permanent opponent. The Gamecocks current permanent SEC West foe, Arkansas, is expected to get Missouri in a border war.
This means, of course, that LSU and Florida would keep playing each other annually. LSU officials have lobbied that they and Florida want to end permanent opponents, but all indications they have been outvoted.
This will prove to be a good thing for all, though, since an Alabama researcher recently discovered that the Mayans were pointing to the third week in October 2012, not December, as the doomsday should the Alabama-Tennessee series be snuffed out.
The Mayans also advised taking the Crimson Tide and the points.
Even if you support the permanent opponent theory, a concern is how often do you rotate the other six teams from the opposite division onto your schedule. This may be solved by doing away with back-to-back games between cross-divisional opponents, splitting up the games to allow a fresh team to rotate on every year.
One last thing: Don’t expect to see the SEC go to nine conference games any time soon.
However the cross-divisional thing plays out, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn’t want them to count toward the division championship, a position supported by LSU coach Les Miles during a speaking engagement earlier this week in Birmingham, Ala. Spurrier’s team had a better record within the SEC East than Georgia (including a win over Georgia), but didn’t play in the SEC Championship game.
There is no proposal to make only games divisional games count toward the title on the Spring Meeting agenda, Bloom said, but Spurrier could put it there by introducing the matter during the coaches’ meeting.