Winners and losers of the SEC’s future scheduling format


With the SEC’s announcement that the conference will stick with the 6-1-1 model in 2016 and beyond, along with mandating one opponent from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12, let’s take a look at some winners and losers of the future scheduling format:

RELATED: LSU’s AD slams the SEC’s future format


Tradition: The SEC’s two main historical rivalries of Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia remained intact. Keeping these two rivalries unblemished on the 2016 future schedule and beyond means tradition wins, and that’s a big part of what the SEC is built on from a program and fan perspective. Could tradition still have won had the conference gone to nine games? Absolutely, but there was also a scare that even if the SEC stayed at eight conference games, the permanent cross-divisional rivalries would be no more. That obviously didn’t happen.

‘Other’ power conferences: The SEC bias has been loud and clear the last several years, with everyone taking aim about the strength of the conference at any chance they can. With the coming playoff, nobody is sure how the conference’s strength of schedule will be affected by the SEC’s future scheduling format. Unless something crazy happens around college football, the SEC should get one team in the playoff annually. With the SEC playing one less conference game than the other four Big 5 conferences (other four power conferences are either at nine conference games or will be there by 2016), could it come back to hurt the league overall and really limit the number of teams the SEC gets in the playoff? The selection committee could hold it against the league for playing one less conference game than the rest. If (and maybe when) the SEC gets knocked because of this, you can bet it will be revisited.


Fans: Not every fan will consider themselves losers, but the majority will be. Had the league gone to nine games, SEC players in a span of four years would have played every SEC opponent during their careers, which was the model minority voice Nick Saban supported. Plus, fans want to see more legitimate games that would give them an excuse to pay the high costs it takes to go to games, instead of playing more cupcakes. Yes, I hear you fan who is okay with keeping the same format, but the majority of fans won’t like it. Fans are looking for entertainment, and playing another conference game would have added to it.

LSU/Florida: Both LSU and Florida are the biggest team losers. The Tigers’ have made it known they’re tired of the ‘competitive disadvantage’ the 6-1-1 scheduling model makes, and they’re tired of playing powerhouse Florida every year, while Alabama continues to dominate the Tennessee series. So, LSU will continue playing Florida every year. Although Florida has welcomed playing LSU every year, the Gators could play both Alabama and LSU in the same year much like 2014, and that’s a killer and brutal schedule. This isn’t a traditional rivalry; therefore, both teams suffer the worst.

The threesome: The SEC mandated that every program play one opponent from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 starting in 2016. Several teams are set already like Florida, South Carolina and Georgia against ACC teams, and power teams like Alabama, Auburn and LSU will have no problem finding another opponent. But what happens to the threesome of Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt? They’re going to have trouble finding an opponent from a power conference that will actually play against them. The three will likely make calls to Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas and Kansas State, among others, but they’re somewhat limited in the teams they can call and the teams that will actually sign on for the game. These three teams will be interesting to watch for future scheduling.

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports



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  • I just want to point out that this statement “the Gators could play both Alabama and LSU in the same year” doesn’t make me pity the Gators. Arkansas plays Alabama and LSU every year. It’s the SEC West way of life.

    • Completely understand. Thanks for the comment. But if you’re Florida, playing the SEC East powers and the two SEC West powers all in one year is something you want to completely escape. They don’t escape it this year though. Brutal slate.

      • Yeah, Arkansas has to play LSU and Alabama every year. But most years, South Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri don’t. So, it’s much harder for them to get into the SEC championship.

        • I feel bad for Arkansas, they have to play Missouri every year!

        • Missouri fans don’t want or need a permanent rival with anybody. Rivalries are rematches of last years great games, not what some alum said was a great game 100 years ago. Conference close series records make great rivalry stage setters, not a designated by the media game. A program with one great rivalry no longer has it’s entire heart and soul in the conference race.

        • Arkansasstrong, ty for being honest!! I’m Razorback and we have always played the best of the best in the over powering SEC conference.Frankly, I liked it that way~~

    • Exactly! Tennessee plays Alabama and Florida every year too. We don’t complain, we enjoy it (though it would be much better if we were winning every year). Some years we even play Alabama, LSU, and Florida.

      • Arkansas has played Georgia, Alabama,S. Carolina, Mississippi State,Ole Miss,Florida,Lsu,Auburn,ect every year. We did not always win but looked forward to the challenge.Never cry, never ever back down~

    • Arkansasstrong, ty for being honest!! I’m Razorback and we have always played the best of the best in the over powering SEC conference.Frankly, I liked it that way~~

      • Goooooooooooooooooooo Hogsssssss, get’tdone~~

        • Arkansasstrong, ty for being honest!! I’m Razorback and we have always played the best of the best in the over powering SEC conference.Frankly, I liked it that way~~

  • What do you expect when Mark Womack (born & raised in Tuscaloosa, went to Tuscaloosa High & graduated from Alabama) is in charge of making the schedule? By the way, that “mandate” they speak of is for the teams in the west, as UGA, SC, UF & UK have been playing OOC power teams since as far back as the late 1800’s, in some cases. Also, over the last 35 years, the entire SEC has played only four times in the regular season against the eventual national champion… and, all of those games have been played by Florida.

    • If you mean playing an eventual national champion from OOC, then ok. Otherwise, we’ve played the eventual national champion 6 out of the last 7 years.

    • Mark Womack is head of scheduling, but he doesn’t control which conference teams play each other, or even where the play. He picks the “whens”: that’s it.

      Every team plays their division schedule, one rotating opponent, and a rivalry game. He has absolutely no say in that.

  • Cry us a river, LSU..Haven’t heard Tennessee complaining about getting dominated by Bama recently. Nor have I heard any whining from Auburn as they’ve lost the last 7 of 9 matchups in the UGA series. Or UGA griping about having to play against Auburn’s Champ Team ’10 or the ’13 BCS Champ participant edition. And not a peep from the Gators about having LSU on their schedule annually. Les, put your big boy pants on, stfu and play football!! But..but..but Alabama gets Tenn from the East blah blah blah. Lol

    • The point is it seems like Alabama plays a plethera of terrible teams every year. LSU plays Bama every year, they played Auburn in ’10 and 13′, and also Florida every year. LSU was the only team to beat Auburn before the National Championship this past season. I would think as Georgia fan you would agree. Alabama consistently is in the bottom of strength of schedule for all the SEC teams. LSU is just trying to put pressure on Alabama to play a few more tough games during the year. Remeber when they played South Alabama last year? South Alabams was the worst team in the FCS at the time, so why was the best in the FBS (Alabama) playing them? I’m not going to lie, Alabama is consistently a very good team. So if they are so good, why couldn’t they handle playing a harder schedule?

      • I won’t often defend Bama, but who they play from the east (& how good they are when they play them) is pure coincidence. Bama can’t help that 1) Tennessee has been bad for almost a decade, nor can they help that 2) When they match their rotating divisional game, they happen to suck. E.G. Mizzou was terrible in ’12 when Bama played them & then very good last year. Bama will probably get lucky again this year, as Tennessee won’t improve too much, & UF will likely be down again. It’s really just luck of the draw. I doubt Bama thought it was lucky playing UT from 1994 through the early 2000’s.

        • Well, let’s look at it from another perspective. Last year, had LSU lost to only Georgia and Ole Miss, but beat Bama, Bama would have still gone on to the SEC Championship if they won out due to our two losses (both on the road, one against a tough Georgia team). Bama played Kentucky and Tennessee out of conference. On another note, I do think that a nine game schedule would have been better. Honestly, two to three cupcake games are bad enough as a fan. Some teams play four. I couple of weaker teams to play your backups late in and rest starters in needed in Division one, but three to four is ridiculous. Some teams seem like their main concern is to just be bowl eligible each year when scheduling.

        • @PCB Rebel: Pure coincidence? Bama can’t help that their competition is bad for over a decade? HUH? That’s EXACTLY the point. They CAN help it by using a format that mixes it up. You have inadvertently MADE LSU’s point.

        • Tennessee may have had coaching changes and hung onto Dooley much longer than they should have. Bama was horrible for a decade also. Tennessee played at the time #2 Oregon, and then at time #2 Oregon, and then #1 Bama. Georgia originally had the Oregon match up and Tennessee took it. Every team in the SEC has had a bad run. Georgia has Chamionship. Tennessee has six National Championship wins . Tide and Vols are the only two SEC teams with over 800 wins all time. Maybe something like that was taken into account. Not everyone wins and it sucks.

      • Alabama has NEVER played South Alabama…

    • My vote would’ve been: move to nine conference games (6 division, 1 permanent cross div, and 2 rotating cross div to play home and home back to back years AND to add the requirement of the Big 5 OOC game). I do see your point as Bama has dodged the big 3 in the East (Dawgs, Gators, Cocks) during the regular season for the last three years. That wouldn’t happen using the 6-1-2 format.

      • They didn’t “dodge” anyone, as it’s impossible to dodge something when you don’t know it’s coming. Hell, we would’ve had UGA in the regular season a couple years ago had the conference not decided to expand, so we ended up with Mizzou instead.

        As far as LSU and Florida goes, why are they complaining about having to play a team that’s been woefully bad since Tebow and Meyer left? “Waahhhh, Alabama gets to play UT, and we’re stuck playing a 4-8 team whose players blocked each other in a loss against an FCS team.”

    • When’s the last time UT came within a game of making the SEC championship game? UT complaining about this would be on par with Vandy or MSU complaining about the same thing. Just wait until when/if UT starts to win again and they shoot Bama a couple of losses in a row. Won’t we all be shocked with the SEC suddenly realizes their folly and changes the permanent format in the sake of “competitive balance”.

      • The last SEC Championship was in 2007. Are you serious man. Tennessee also has the first BCS National Championship. When was the last time Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas has been to a SEC Championship? That is a ridiculous argument. As far as most wins UT and Bama have the most of any SEC team. Georgia, and LSU are off by about sixty wins a piece.

  • It wasn’t South Alabama; it was Georgia Southern. South Alabama is a new team, but not terrible, they had several close games against good opponents last year. But speaking of South Alabama, their schedule consisting of their opponent’s last year’s wins and losses is tougher than Alabama’s. When Alabama’s schedule is weaker than a mid-tier Sun Belt team that’s only had a team for 5 seasons, you know it’s time for Alabama to start making some changes in their scheduling.

    • Or, one could conversely argue that the teams on Alabama’s schedule need to quit their slacking. You can talk all you want about “cupcake teams”, but the fact of the matter is that teams like Florida, UT, Arkansas, and WVU, who are historically good teams but have played like crap recently, are doing as much to drop that SOS as the cupcake games are.

    • While I do believe Alabama has played Georgia Southern a few times, the real crime was them playing Georgia State their very first -and I believe third year- of football. I was working under Curry for that first year and thought it was absolutely ridiculous! Also, side note, the brick incident that has become infamous between Curry and Bama fans won’t ever be acknowledged by Curry. He is a class act and still had nothing to say that was poor about that terrible period in his coaching career -fan threat wise, I mean-.

  • Mississippi State did just play against Oklahoma State this past season……….

    • Of course they did! Everyone applauded them for that, but specifically heading into the playoff era is what I’m talking about. It’s not a knock against any of those three schools; rather, since MSU doesn’t have a natural ACC or Big 12 rival, it could be more interesting than most. That was specifically my point.

      • Don’t sweat it Jon. Not all, but some fans from every school think that if you’re not singing the praises of their school then you’re bashing them.

  • The competitive imbalance thing is overstated. For example from 95 to 06 UT beat Bama 10 out of 12 times now Bama has won 7 in a row. History says it will change in the next couple of years. Nick’s not going to be around forever. AU could roll off 5 or 6 against UGA and who knows if UF will recover this year or next. No need to over react.

  • “But what happens to the threesome of Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt? They’re going to have trouble finding an opponent from a power conference that will actually play against them.”

    Wrong. This is the first year in ten years that Vanderbilt isn’t playing an ACC or Big 10 team, and a series with Georgia Tech is already on the books starting in 2016.

    • Good for the Ga Tech game already being on the schedule prior to the announcement. We’ll see how the future scheduling goes.

    • Lane, you just have to ignore a good part of everything that JC writes and/or take it with a grain of salt. In almost all pieces that have to deal with UM, MSU, VU…he always tends to bash us. That is fine, we will deal. UM also has a series set up with an ACC team, as we have in the past as well as several big 12 teams & Independents along with the brutal SEC West teams but none of that matters bc oh yeah, we aren’t bama, lsu or florida. For UM I would love for us to get a perm series with TX – both fan bases had a blast playing each other. Yes I would love / want for UM to play the top teams in the power conf. & but we also need to keep playing Southern Miss & Memphis, mainly bc we are in each others back yards & recruiting areas. I love playing Vandy – I think it’s a great perm for us…bc it’s easy trips for both fan bases PLUS we do have a history bw us, some tragic – but that is part of it. But face it, until UM, VU and god forbid msu wins the next 12 national championships back to back….then people like JC will constantly overlook, criticize and devalue anything that his “threesome” does. So don’t take it to heart! Just love your team!

      • Well, I wouldn’t say Jon Cooper “always tends to bash us”. He actually has had many positive things to say about Ole Miss. Now, as to Ole Miss, Vandy, & State having difficulty signing up for good OOC games, we shall see. We’ve just finished a home & home with Texas, open this year with Boise St. in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic in ATL, have a future home & home with Ga Tech, & recently had a home & home with Clemson cancelled (they cancelled). So, I personally don’t think we’ll have any issue scheduling in the future. It’s fun for opposing fanbases to come to the Grove & we’re on the rise, so scheduling shouldn’t be difficult for us.

      • Ces – I hate every SEC team, according to at least one fan of every SEC team. Sorry you took it as bashing. All I intended to say was that Ole Miss, Vandy and MSU will have a tougher time than most, as a majority of the other teams have yearly rival games with a power conference member.

  • As an Auburn fan I’m happy that we get to keep our rivalry with Georgia going. Sure the Dawgs have given Auburn fits for the last few years (well everyone in 2012 gave Auburn problems) but it IS the south’s oldest rivalry. When you start tossing out games like that you loose a part of what makes the SEC so great…tradition!

    • F Auburn. Go Dawgs.

    • I agree Malakai, tradition is what makes the SEC so great! I love going to the UGA Auburn game in Athens every other year, its usually the highlight of the season besides playing Florida and Carolina. I also look forward to watching all the other great cross divisional games like FLA/LSU and Bama/Tenn. I’m glad they didn’t change it.

  • Can someone explain to me what the point of the “bridge schedule” was for the past 2 years and this one if they were just going to maintain the status-quo of keeping Bama lined up for a championship run? Its complete and utter rubbish, Slive and the rest of the SEC should be ashamed of this blatant favoritism.

    • The bridge schedule was in conjunction with Missouri and Texas A&M joining the conference, and it was intended to buy time to see what the future would hold.

      • And it just so happened Alabama conveniently got to play win-less Mizzou and Kentucky while dropping UGA and South Carolina from their schedule. Oh not to mention their primary competition in the division (LSU) happened to, amazingly, pick up South Carolina and UGA. So unlucky I guess.

        • Cry, cry, cry. First of all Tennessee won’t be down forever so that’s not necessarily an easy game for Bama. And, LSU didn’t pick up anybody permanently but Florida and the remaining west teams.

  • I see Miles point, the result of the LSU/UF game has kept LSU out of the SEC championship game twice & Florida four times… I don’t think you could say the same for the Bama/Tennessee or UGA/Auburn games, even if you combined them. The most equitable thing to do is get rid of the permanent cross division games.

  • OM, MSU, and Vandy will have no problem scheduling. Ole Miss played Texas the past 2 years, and is playing GA Tech in the future, MSU played OK State last year, and Vandy has been playing GA Tech for quite some time.

  • You guys want parity in the system? How about spending caps like the NFL that make it so that Bama, LSU, Auburn and the rest can’t outspend the middle and lower teams 3:1. How is it that the NFL is more collegial than college football in that regard? The big boys crying here about something unfair is embarrassing. How about programs that are able to poach every 5 star in Mississippi ( I’m a State fan) because they have three times the resources. Explain the equality there, crybabies.

    • Well, in fairness, if we (Ole Miss & State in this instance) start winning more, good instate talent will stay at home. This not an Alabama or LSU problem, this is an Ole Miss & Miss. St. problem.

  • OK, this is pretty simple. Are we more interested in making the competition fair or chasing the money that the rivalries feed? THAT is what it comes down to, … and the SEC voted with their wallets, not fairness.

    • Look no further than our recent additions to the conference. If it was about the fans, Clemson would’ve gotten the invite instead of Missouri. Clemson is an SEC team… but again, it’s about the money.

  • I’m still trying to figure out all of the comments about how it’s Bama’s fault that we’re stuck with the scheduling system that we got when Nick Saban has been the biggest proponent of a 9 game league schedule. He’s been pushing for it for awhile now and all the other schools were saying no.

  • UGA and Auburn have played 117 times to a record of 55-54 & 8. Not sure which part was cyclical? Last year ended with a “Miracle onthe Plains”. Do we want to mess with that series? Why do we get excited about college football in the first place?

  • Let’s be clear and it really bothers me Jon that you put Ole Miss in the same conversation as State and Vandy. Vandy likely doesn’t deserve it either. Ole Miss will have no trouble finding an opponent (one they can beat maybe) for 1 reason. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, wants to come to Oxford, MS for a football game. Nashville is a great town as well but no one wants to go to Starkville. State will struggle with opponents… Ole Miss will not.

    • The only reason UT and Bama rivalry lives is because they are the only two teams in the SEC to have won over 800 games. Third and Fourth are LSU and UGA. They both need around 60 games to get there. You people look at the present, the SEC looks at history. Neyland Stadium and Bryant-Denny stadium are also the two largest in SEC. It’s money also. The SEC gets a cut off every team. So there you go. Ole Miss is thirty minutes from Casino’s and less than one hour from Memphis. They will have no problem with getting teams