Kentucky Blog - College

DESTIN, Fla. --Things are changing in the SEC.

The addition of Missouri and Texas A&M has thrown the whole league schedule out of whack, and the conference coaches and athletic directors are trying to figure out how to solve the problem. So far, it appears the 14 member schools are far from a consensus.

In the 6-1-1 model you've heard so much about, each team plays every team in its division every year (that's the six). That's not really in dispute. Has to be done for fairness' sake.

Then, every team would play one game against a locked-in opponent across the division. For Kentucky, this is Mississippi State. More importantly, this is where you preserve the Tennessee-Alabama and Georgia-Auburn rivalries.

The last game is against a rotating opponent from the other division. In the past, teams played a home-and-home series in back-to-back years. That probably won't continue to happen, because that would mean you would only get to play three or four teams every four years from across the division.

The other big problem is that in that model, it takes 12 years to complete a full cycle in the conference (that is, to play a home game and road game against every team).

Another proposal would be a 6-2, with two games rotating across divisions every year. That dumps the cross-divisional rivalries, but allows you to cycle through the league faster.

Then there are the programs that want the league to go to nine games every year. That would allow for every divisional opponent, the locked-in opponent, and two rotating games. At the moment, though, it doesn't seem especially popular.

But there's no proposal that we've heard of that would make everyone happy, or address all those problems.

Here's my proposal, a bit of a compromise:

1. Eight conference games.

2. Every team plays every team in its division every year.

3. Each team would play two games from the other division every year; one home, one away.

4. Those two cross-division opponents rotate, but with a caveat: Every time the traditional rival (or a previously locked-in opponent) comes up, you play them in back-to-back years in a home-and-home series.

5. Other than the locked in opponent, you cycle through the rest of the league, then play them at whatever location you didn't play before (i.e. if you host Alabama one year, you travel to Tuscaloosa next time they're on the schedule)

Confused? Here's what Kentucky's cross-divisional schedule for the next eight years would look like with this model:

Season             Home opponent                              Away opponent

2012:                Mississippi State.........................Arkansas

2013:                Alabama.......................................Mississippi State

2014:                Ole Miss.......................................Auburn

2015:                Texas A&M...................................LSU

2016:                Arkansas......................................Mississippi State

2017:                Mississippi State.........................Alabama

2018:               Auburn.........................................Ole Miss

2019:               LSU...............................................Texas A&M

One note: because there are an odd number of teams in divisions, you'd have to play the locked-in opponent at home twice in a row (albeit years apart) or travel there twice in a row. Otherwise, you'd play both opponents from the other division at home in one year, then go on the road for them both another year. It would unbalance the schedule.

It's a compromise. It preserves the cross-divisional rivalries, because you play them twice every four years (or you could tinker with it and play every other year). If teams want to dig in their heels and refuse to budge, so be it. But if teams are willing to move, this is a step toward the middle.

Alabama and Tennessee still play. Every recruiting class will cycle through the entire SEC in four years, and fans are guaranteed at least one trip to every location across the division every eight years.

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