Thursday at the league meetings in Destin, the SEC announced it would be keeping its football schedule at eight conference games—despite adding Texas and Oklahoma—but eliminate the East and West divisions.
This won’t be the permanent schedule in 2025 and beyond, it’s a one-year stopgap and the league will revisit possibly moving to nine conference games in the near future. As for the 2024 SEC Championship game, the top-two teams in the standings will play for the title.
The 2024 conference schedule for all schools will be announced in a made for television event on SEC Network on June 14, but we know for LSU will play Texas A&M. Should the SEC go to nine conference games, the Aggies, Ole Miss, and Alabama are reportedly LSU’s three permanent opponents if the league adopts a 3-6 model.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey the rest of the schedule will be made up with fairness, balance, and traditional rivalries in mind.
“During this time of change, our fans will continue to enjoy traditional rivalries and begin to see new matchups presented by the addition of two historically successful football programs to the SEC,” Sankey said.
The 14 member institutions voted unanimously to keep the schedule at eight conference games. That said, CBS reports that five schools (LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, Missouri, and Florida) are interested in expanding to nine conference games. CBS also reports that Texas and Oklahoma are also pro-9 SEC games but they don’t yet have voting rights on any kind of SEC matters.
“Creating a one-year schedule will provide a longer on-ramp to manage football scheduling around existing non-conference commitments of our members,” Sankey said. “It will also provide additional time to understand the impact of an expanded College Football Playoff and engage with our media partners as we determine the appropriate long-term plan for SEC football scheduling.”
There’s some sticking points for expanding to nine conference games, the biggest of which are television, making the College Football Playoff, and achieving bowl eligibility.
Enough schools wonder if ESPN will pay to broadcast an extra conference game. Remember, the SEC and ESPN signed a media rights deal before Texas and Oklahoma announced they would be joining the league.
There’s also a big enough contingent of schools that wonder what kind of impact an extra conference game would have on the league’s ability to send multiple teams to the College Football Playoff, which will expand to 12 teams in 2024; could playing, and potentially losing, an extra conference game knock your team out of the playoff? That’s a legit concern for some programs.
And then there’s also a fear for the teams with the weaker football programs that playing a ninth SEC game would seriously damage a school’s ability to win six games and thus qualify for bowl eligibility. Those schools would rather keep their annual SoCon Challenge game.
Personally I’d love to see the league go to nine SEC games. The more games against Power 5 teams the better in my opinion.
Whatever resolution the SEC will achieve for 2025 and beyond likely won’t be reached until this time next year. In the meantime, who do you hope LSU plays in 2024? How do you feel about Texas A&M being LSU’s permanent opponent? Are you Team 8 or Team 9? Sound off in the comments below.