SEC Football Scheduling: What Do You Prefer?

Photo via Bill Carter.

During all the groundswell and excitement surrounding Missouri's move to the SEC back in November, it was easy to think of all the ways Mizzou's life as an athletic program was about to change. The money was most likely going to improve, Mizzou's relationship with Kansas was going to change severely (even if, at the time, we didn't exactly know how), Mizzou was going to lose longtime rivals (the last time Missouri didn't play Kansas State in football: 1926; the last time Missouri didn't play Iowa State: 1907), Mizzou was going to gain a new set of conference rivals, et cetera.

What we perhaps didn't realize at the time was just how much time and energy we were going to spend thinking about schedules. The hoopla leading up to the reveal of the 2012 football schedule was both exciting and hilarious. And now we have moved onto the topic of long-term scheduling. A couple of days ago, it was rumored that we might find out our next decade-plus of football schedules by Friday, and we might find out about basketball soon after. Now, we're starting to catch on that it might still be a while. Hard to draw up schedules when you haven't totally decided how yet.

Even though the SEC has rather definitively decided against a nine-game conference slate for the foreseeable future, there are still quite a few different scheduling options at hand, some realistic, some less so. Let's take a look at some of them, then take a vote.

The 6-1-1 Model (With Home-And-Homes)

Probably the most familiar of all scheduling options, this one is pretty easy to explain: you play your six division rivals each year, you play your "permanent" inter-division rival each year, and you play the remaining six inter-division rivals twice over a period of 12 years.

Random Five-Year Example:

Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four Year Five

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas

at Ole Miss

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Arkansas

Ole Miss

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas

at LSU

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Arkansas

LSU

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas

at Auburn

Pro: This type of scheduling is intuitive, and it provides a lot of continuity. If you lose a tough game on the road in Year One, you know you're going to get another shot at them at home the next year. You don't have to look up when you may play them again in the future.

Con: Missouri joins the SEC in 2012 and, if this type of scheduling is adopted, might not have played every new conference rival until 2023. Makes it difficult to feel like a true member of a conference with gaps that huge. Plus, if you lose a tough game on the road in Year Two, then "Yeah, but we'll take them out at home in 2025" isn't much of a rallying cry.

The 6-1-1 Model (With One Game At A Time)

Option Two provides us with the opportunity to play every inter-division rival within six years. It is the same as the above option, only you would play a given inter-division rival in, for instance, years one and seven or years two and eight. You play a new team each season with your eighth game.

Random Five-Year Example:

Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four Year Five

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas

at Ole Miss

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Arkansas

LSU

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas

at Auburn

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Arkansas

Texas A&M

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas

at Alabama

Pro: If you are an undergraduate, you now have the opportunity to see Missouri play 11 of 13 potential conference opponents in your four years here, nine or 10 of which will come to Columbia. This also has at least a semi-continuous feel to it, even if you have to wait six years for a rematch.

Con: You still have to wait six years for a rematch, and if you are a road stadiums collector of sorts, it will still take you either 11 or 12 years to visit every new rival in their stadium.

The 6-2 Model (With No Permanent Rivalry And Home-And-Homes)

This is what Mizzou has gotten to know well through the years, though the Big 12 obviously used a 5-3 model with only 12 teams. With the 6-2, you simply play two inter-divison rivals each year with no permanent rival. Obviously this would seriously rankle Alabama and Tennessee (among other schools), who probably only agreed to conference expansion under the agreement that they could continue the Third Saturday In October series each season. It is, therefore, unlikely to be chosen, even if it makes a lot of sense to a lot of people.

Random Five-Year Example:

Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four Year Five

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

at Ole Miss
LSU

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

Ole Miss
at LSU

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas
at Auburn

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Arkansas
Auburn

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Alabama
at Miss. State

Pro: Once again, you play everybody within seven years. Plus, with an odd number of East Division opponents, you wouldn't end up on the same cycle forever, as was the case with the Big 12 (where Kansas and Iowa State would each play both Oklahoma and Texas for two years, then neither for two years, and on, and on). In this case, Year Seven might see Mizzou pairing with Ole Miss and Texas A&M for two years, then LSU and Arkansas, et cetera.

Con: It still takes you seven years to play everybody, you miss out on a glorious opportunity to play a new border rival (Arkansas) every year, and ... do you really want to piss off Alabama right when you walk in the door?

The 6-2 Model (With One Game At A Time)

Same as above, only no home-and-homes.

Random Five-Year Example:

Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four Year Five

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

at Ole Miss
LSU

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Arkansas
Auburn

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

at Alabama
Miss. State

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Texas A&M
Ole Miss

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

at LSU
Arkansas

Pro: Now you play everybody within four years, and there is at least some semblance of continuity, with Missouri playing each team either three or four years after a given contest. That's not bad.

Con: You still don't play Arkansas every year. And Alabama is still pissed off.

Progressive Scheduling: Some Permanent Rivalries, But Not All

This is what I drew up for SB Nation back in February.

[Clay] Travis mentioned that only Tennessee-Alabama, Auburn-Georgia and Florida-LSU are worth salvaging. One could make the case that even Florida-LSU could hit the road (it has been a marquee matchup in recent years, but it hasn't held the same historical cachet as the other two). But let's say, for instance, that three are deemed salvageable, with the other four thrown into the recycle bin. We could do this with two or four as well, but we'll go with three. How messy does that make SEC schedules?

The short answer: quite messy. But doable.

Here's how a progressive SEC schedule could work with a) eight conference games and b) only three permanent rivalries. And yes, it would take basically 18 years for everything to play out in a pretty cycle:

For the six teams in the permanent rivalries (Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, LSU-Florida), you play your rival 18 times over 18 years, and you play everybody else in the opposite division three times, or once every six years.

For teams without a permanent rival, you play three teams seven times, one team six times and the teams with permanent rivalries just three times.

Here are a few examples:

  • Auburn has a permanent rival in Georgia. They would play Georgia 18 times in 18 years, and they would play each of the other East teams -- Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt -- three times in that span. Because of the ugliness of the number seven, it probably wouldn't be in any sort of clean, once-every-six-years cycle, but it would even out over time.
  • Missouri would enter the SEC without a permanent rival (which, by definition, makes sense since they have only ever been in a conference with one current SEC team, Texas A&M, and they have only actually been conference mates with A&M for 15 years). Over an 18-year span, they could play Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M seven times, Mississippi State six times, and the three West teams with rivals -- Alabama, LSU and Auburn -- three times.
  • Arkansas, meanwhile, would play Vanderbilt, Missouri and South Carolina seven times each, Kentucky six times and Tennessee, Florida and Georgia three times each.

Over the course of 18 seasons, Missouri would, in my example, play Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M seven times each, Mississippi State six times, and Alabama, Auburn and LSU three times each.

Random Five-Year Example:

Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four Year Five

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Miss. State
at Ole Miss

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

at Texas A&M
LSU

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

Arkansas
at Texas A&M

at Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
at S. Carolina
at Tennessee
Vanderbilt

Alabama
at Miss. State

Florida
at Georgia
at Kentucky
S. Carolina
Tennessee
at Vanderbilt

at Auburn
Ole Miss

Pro: You play everybody at least once every six years, you almost certainly play every team within an undergraduate's four-year cycle, and you play certain teams to whom you are more closely tied (Arkansas and A&M, for instance) more often, if not every year. Missouri could still get some good, quality hate going with a team like Arkansas even if they only play each other approximately twice every five years.

Con: First of all, this is all sorts of messy. For those who enjoy such a thing, there would be no way to keep track of a schedule from year to year.

The 6-2 Model (With Rotating Divisions)

I got this one via e-mail this morning, so I take no credit. I only pass along the dirty details. It's a fun one. The e-mail:

I have attached a what I think is a better football schedule for the SEC. I believe it meets all the traits desired by the SEC. Each team has three annual rivalry games and plays five of the remaining teams each year. In two years, all teams play each other. There are two divisions where every team in the division plays the other. The teams in the divisions change every year. In even years division A includes MO, AR, TA&M, KY, LSU, AL, & TN and division B includes GA, AU, FL, VN, SC, MS, & OM. In odd years the divisions are C (MO, AR, TA&M, KY, GA, AU, & FL) and division D (LSU, AL, TN, VN, SC, MS, & OM).

While all the rivalries are not kept on an annual basis, the major ones are. In any case, all teams play each other at least biennially.

Even-Year
Divisions
Odd-Year
Divisions

A
Alabama
Arkansas
Kentucky
LSU
Missouri
Tennessee
Texas A&M

B
Auburn
Florida
Georgia
Miss. State
Ole Miss
S. Carolina
Vanderbilt

C
Arkansas
Auburn
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Missouri
Texas A&M

D
Alabama
LSU
Miss. State
Ole MIss
S. Carolina
Tennessee
Vanderbilt

So Missouri shares a division with Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas A&M each year and gets a year each with Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee.

Random Five-Year Example:

Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four Year Five

at Arkansas
at Kentucky
Texas A&M

at Alabama
LSU
Tennessee

at Ole Miss
S. Carolina

Arkansas
Kentucky
at Texas A&M

at Georgia
at Auburn
Florida

at Vanderbilt
Miss. State

at Arkansas
Kentucky
Texas A&M

Alabama
at LSU
at Tennessee

Ole Miss
at S. Carolina

Arkansas
at Kentucky
at Texas A&M

Georgia
Auburn
at Florida

Vanderbilt
at Miss. State

at Arkansas
at Kentucky
Texas A&M

at Alabama
LSU
Tennessee

at Ole Miss
S. Carolina

Pro: Amazingly, you play everybody in the conference within two years. You get to protect a select few rivalries (Auburn-Alabama, Alabama-Tennessee, The Egg Bowl, Florida-Georgia, Mizzou-A&M, Mizzou-Arkansas, Auburn-Georgia, Florida-Tennessee, etc.) and evenly distribute the other games.

Con: And we thought figuring out the ACC divisions was difficult. Not that this matters, but it is difficult to imagine support from this from writers who consistently have to look at a chart to figure out possible conference title game matchups. That isn't a reason not to do something, obviously, but it would certainly be confusing. That, and unless I'm doing something wrong, it would require a little home-road jujitsu. For one of your three permanent rivals (I chose Kentucky above, but it could be whoever), you would end up playing back-to-backs in one locale, then back-to-backs in the other. So Kentucky (or Arkansas, or Texas A&M) would visit Columbia for two years in a row (like Mizzou has with College Station), then Mizzou would visit Lexington two years in a row. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but something tells me it might be a sticking point for rivalries like LSU-Alabama.

So there you go. You've got your options. If I'm leaving one out, let me know in comments. But now it's time to vote and leave your opinions below.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Rock M Nation

You must be a member of Rock M Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rock M Nation. You should read them.

Join Rock M Nation

You must be a member of Rock M Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Rock M Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker