The SEC expects to have a solution to the uncertainty surrounding its future schedules sometime soon, and a nine-game schedule is still under consideration. However, if Nick Saban has the correct read on the feeling towards a nine-game conference schedule by the conference's coaches, there's still not much support.
"I don't think there's any support for that, it doesn't seem like" Saban told AL.com Tuesday. "I think there's a little bit more support for staying with an eight-game schedule and everybody playing a ninth opponent that's in the five major conferences.
"My thing is I'm for playing nine conference games and still playing another team in the major conferences, so you play 10 games because of fan interest, people coming to games looking forward to seeing more good games.
"So that's the starting point for me. I think it's important for the players to be able to play more teams in the SEC East, on the other side, which we only get to play one now. I don't know if we stay with the 6-1-1 or 6-0-2. I don't know."
The SEC's coaches met on Tuesday and discussed schedule concepts. The idea of a ninth game against a major conference opponent fits in with the February report that the SEC and ACC had discussed a possible series.
The SEC currently follows the 6-1-1 format that it used before adding Texas A&M and Missouri as 13th and 14th schools in 2012. It's six inter-division games, one rivalry game and one rotating intra-division game for each opponent. The 6-0-2 format would keep the six inter-division games and remove the rivalry game for another rotating intra-division game.
The SEC's rivalries for 2014 are Arkansas-Missouri, Texas A&M-South Carolina, Alabama-Tennessee, LSU-Florida, Auburn-Georgia, Mississippi State-Kentucky and Ole Miss-Vanderbilt.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva mentioned his school's opposition to a nine-game schedule in March and said schools won't change their votes. Part of Alleva's reasoning was that it meant seven more losses for conference teams.
We're on board with Saban here. There is no downside from an observer's perspective to see a ninth SEC game rather than a matchup between an SEC school and a team it's paying to visit campus. And as we've said before, don't you think the SEC Network would ultimately prefer another conference game as well?
It'd also be a way for fans to see every team on a regular basis and keep the rivalry games, which have been a staple of SEC football. With a rivalry game and two rotating games, teams would play each other once every three years and host once every six. Now, if the current schedule holds, Missouri won't play Alabama until 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and 2024 in Columbia, Mo. after the two played at Missouri in 2012.
We'll see if money eventually talks, and our guess is that it will. It just may not be in time for the next period of scheduling.
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