Oklahoma, Texas to SEC in 2024: What a 9-game conference schedule could look like

Joshua Moore, Texas Longhorns, Justin Broiles, Oklahoma Sooners. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Joshua Moore, Texas Longhorns, Justin Broiles, Oklahoma Sooners. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Oklahoma and Texas will be joining the SEC a year ahead of schedule beginning on July 1, 2024.

By the grace of god, Oklahoma and Texas will be allowed to join the SEC a year early in 2024.

The Big 12 blue-bloods were largely responsible for the latest wave of college football realignment. This set in motion UCLA and USC going to the Big Ten, BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF going to the Big 12 and several other moves at the Group of Five level. We might not even be done yet, as the Pac-12 is going big-game hunting by looking to add San Diego State and … SMU.

With College Football Playoff expansion happening in 2024, it makes all the sense in the world to get these moves done by then. BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are joining the Big 12 in July of this year. UCLA and USC are slated to join the Big Ten in July 2024. For Oklahoma and Texas to have to wait until 2025 would have been patently absurd. Thankfully, the SEC is making it happen.

Here is the bombshell message SEC commissioner Greg Sankey sent out about the 2024 season.

The Big 12 has altered the Oklahoma and Texas exit date. It will operate as a 14-team league for one year in 2023 before Oklahoma and Texas depart for their new conference. They did not want to be there any longer, so there was no reason outside of money to stay together for the


TV contracts anymore. You do realize what this means for SEC football fans in two seasons, right?

Divisions are cooked and the far antiquated eight-game conference schedule with a 6-1-1 format will finally bite the dust! This is an entertainment product at its very essence and we are getting more good games because of it.

Expect for the SEC to spend the next year figuring out what its 2024 season schedule will look like.

What a 9-game SEC conference schedule looks like with Oklahoma and Texas

In a 16-team league, the expectation is the SEC will adopt a nine-game conference schedule using the 3-6-6 format. This means each team will have three annual rivals and rotate the other 12 conference opponents on a biennial basis, playing six one year and six the other. In theory, this will afford a player to face all 15 SEC opponents at least twice (home and away) over a four-year span.

This is largely agreed upon, and nobody with a brain has any problem with this. However, the most interesting part of this equation is what each team’s three annual rivalries will be kept intact. These games are what separate the SEC from every other league. You cannot even begin to quantify the passion you will see when each team’s four-tiered rival plays each other. It is absurd!

So with that in mind, here is a look at what each league member’s three annual rivalries could be.

  • Alabama: Auburn, LSU, Tennessee
  • Arkansas: Missouri, South Carolina, Texas
  • Auburn: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State
  • Florida: Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee
  • Georgia: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina
  • Kentucky: Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
  • LSU: Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
  • Mississippi State: Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss
  • Missouri: Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina
  • Oklahoma: Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M
  • Ole Miss: LSU, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
  • South Carolina: Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri
  • Tennessee: Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt
  • Texas: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
  • Texas A&M: LSU, Oklahoma, Texas
  • Vanderbilt: Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee

While figuring out each team’s 6-6 rotational basis part of its schedule will be easier said than done, getting all 16 members the “right” mix of annual rivals will be especially challenging.

Three goals need to be achieved with this:

  1. Maintain as many historically relevant rivalries as possible.
  2. Use proximity as a means to limit the effects of cross-regional travel to some extent.
  3. Attempt to incorporate some level of competitive balance across the board.

For example, the vast majority of the league views Alabama as a rival, but that level of disdain is not always reciprocated from the Crimson Tide faithful. Conversely, Missouri’s biggest rival is still in the Big 12 in Kansas. Despite being in the league for a decade now, the Tigers have not been able to build heated rivalries like fellow 2012 SEC entrant Texas A&M has. The Aggies despise LSU.

The good news is Arkansas played in the Southwest with Texas and Texas A&M, Oklahoma played in the Big 12 with Missouri, Texas and Texas A&M, and like Alabama, everybody in the region pretty hates Texas. So the SEC does not have to manufacture animosity all that much. It needs to put worthy adversaries in a southern football cathedral on a biennial basis and see what happens!

Truth be told, not every annual rivalry game will be saved once the league goes 3-3-6 in two years.

However, these are a handful that cannot go away under any circumstance and must be protected.

  • Alabama-Auburn (Iron Bowl)
  • Alabama-Tennessee (Third Saturday in October)
  • Arkansas-Texas
  • Auburn-Georgia (Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry)
  • Florida-Georgia (World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party)
  • Florida-Tennessee
  • LSU-Ole Miss (Magnolia Bowl)
  • Mississippi State-Ole Miss (Egg Bowl)
  • Oklahoma-Texas (Red River Showdown)
  • Tennessee-Vanderbilt
  • Texas-Texas A&M

Yes, there are others, but these 11 games have to be played annually.

Other games we would like to see continue as a yearly tradition include:

  • Alabama-LSU
  • Florida-Kentucky
  • Georgia-South Carolina
  • LSU-Texas A&M

There are others as well, but we have to begin to realize that some of these annual rivalries we have grown to love will bite the dust like Auburn-Florida did several decades ago.

These would probably include:

  • Arkansas-Texas A&M
  • Auburn-LSU
  • Florida-LSU
  • Georgia-Tennessee

Overall, SEC fans should embrace the exciting times ahead with a nine-game conference in a 16-team league with a 3-6-6 format. The SEC East and the SEC West never played each other all that often, especially once Missouri and Texas A&M joined the league in 2012. Eliminating divisions is the best course of action here, as is adopting some variation of the proposed format in question.

Ultimately, the best thing the SEC can do here is to learn from others’ mistakes and then adapt accordingly. If an annual rivalry gets stale, they can swap it out at the end of a four-year cycle, just like what the ACC is proposing in its 3-5-5 format in a 14-team league. More importantly, the 6-6 biennial rotation will afford for new rivalries to grow and prosper as college football goes big time.

The SEC should avoid trying to appease to everyone, but rather give the viewer more great games.

Next. 5 college football teams who could be the next TCU in 2023. dark

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