The SEC found a temporary solution to its scheduling conundrum once Texas and Oklahoma join the conference next year.
Commissioner Greg Sankey announced the conference’s 14 university presidents agreed on an eight-game SEC schedule for the 2024 season but that no decision has been made in regard to the SEC’s conference schedule in subsequent seasons.
The decision allows programs to keep their 2024 non-conference schedules intact. Alabama head coach Nick Saban, for example, argued against a nine-game SEC schedule due to the Tide’s scheduled home-and-away series with the Big Ten’s Wisconsin Badgers set to begin at Wisconsin in 2024.
That isn’t the only big game saved by the SEC’s decision. LSU kicks off the 2024 season in Las Vegas with a neutral site game against USC. Other games set for that opening weekend include Georgia versus Clemson. Florida-Miami (FL) and Texas A&M-Notre Dame.
The SEC debated between the eight-game conference schedule it landed on and a hypothetical nine-game slate. If the eight-game slate sticks, teams will play one permanent opponent while the other seven games will feature teams on a rotating basis. The nine-game schedule would feature three fixed opponents to maintain the conference’s many storied rivalries. (h/t ESPN)
Saban was initially in favor of nine conference games until Alabama was able to schedule quality opponents out-of-conference. “My deal was always to play more SEC games because we couldn’t get other people to schedule,” he said.
Georgia’s Kirby Smart, meanwhile, was much more apathetic about the future of SEC scheduling, suggesting the discussion is “the most overrated conversation there ever was.”
While he might be indifferent, the schedule might have implications in the expanded 12-team playoff, which begins in 2024. The conference’s goal—like all others—is to get as many team’s to qualify for the College Football Playoff as possible. Playing high-profile out-of-conference games—and winning—could be important to tie-breakers when the CFP committee selects the field.
Sankey said the conference intends on coming up with a permanent solution next year.
But fans won’t have to wait much longer to find out what’s in store for 2024. The SEC will unveil rthe full 2024 schedule during a primetime special on the SEC Network on June 14.