“The real debate is eight or nine games,” Sankey said. “That doesn’t mean the divisions are completely erased from our consideration, but they are not at the forefront of our thinking.”
If the SEC were to move to a single-division model, Sankey noted how schools will have one permanent rival and seven rotating opponents in an eight-game schedule or three permanent rivals and six rotating opponents in a nine-game slate.
At SEC Media Days in July, A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher said Texas, LSU and Mississippi State could be A&M’s permanent opponents in a 3-6 format. . It’s unclear who would be the Aggies’ only permanent opponent in a 1-7 pattern.
Sankey said the pods didn’t work well because there would be a lack of return games – a pattern that doesn’t resonate with the league’s fan base. That’s a problem in the SEC’s current programming model in which teams play six division games, have a permanent cross-divisional rival, and face a rotating cross-divisional opponent. Sankey noted how Missouri is playing Auburn for the first time as conference opponents next week and that Georgia has yet to play A&M at Kyle Field since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012.
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“When we announced the expansion, one of my observations at the highest level was that we needed to bring teams to campuses more frequently, and I think we will,” Sankey said. “That’s one of the advantages of the Central Division.”
The question remains when SEC officials will announce a potential change in the planning model.
The SEC announced in July 2021 that Texas and Oklahoma would join the league in 2025, and in August 2021, Sankey said the league’s current athletic directors had decided they would like to know the scheduling model when they would meet for their Spring 2022 meetings the following May. in Destin, Florida. However, no announcements were made at the conference’s spring meetings. Sankey said it was due to other core issues in college football. The league made a decision and instead went deeper into how tiebreakers work.
“We had to think deeper than we did … with a tiebreaker that worked for the better part of 30 years,” Sankey said.
This week, the SEC announced that it had ordered Georgia and Tennessee to postpone future non-conference playoffs against Oklahoma, with the Sooners set to join the conference in 2025. The Bulldogs and Volunteers were set to play Oklahoma in non-conference games after 2025. Sankey said Alabama and Texas will play the second leg of their home-and-away series next season. He noted that’s “a pretty good sign that conference rosters are going to stay” as they are in the Big 12 Conference and SEC in 2023.
REMARKS — Former LSU head coach Ed Orgeron also attended Saturday’s game at Kyle Field. Orgeron, who was fired from LSU last year, wore Miami gear. He was an assistant coach at Miami from 1988 to 1992.