Pros, cons and verdict on SEC football 8- or 9-game conference schedule dilemma

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Kirby Smart, Georgia Bulldogs
Kirby Smart, Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images) /

With Oklahoma and Texas joining the league in 2024, the SEC football schedule will have to be adjusted accordingly.

A 16-team league with Oklahoma and Texas coming aboard in 2024 will massively shake up the SEC football schedule.

Where things stand now, the SEC plays an eight-game conference schedule. Six games are played against each team’s divisional opponents, a seventh is against a cross-divisional rival (Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, Florida-LSU, etc.) and an eighth rotates among the six other teams in the opposite division. It needed to be revamped for so many reasons. Thankfully, this is happening.

With the 14 member institutions, plus delegates from Oklahoma and Texas, meeting this week for the league’s spring meetings, the biggest topic up for debate is what the football schedule looks like beginning in 2024.

It will be one of these two options:

  • Eight-game schedule: One annual rival, seven rotating opponents
  • Nine-game schedule: Three annual rivals, six rotating opponents

So we’re going to debate the pros and cons of these and figure out what to do because … we can.

Pros of an eight-game SEC football schedule

The biggest pro the updated eight-game format has over the nine-gamer is we don’t have to deal with the petty arguing wars over an unbalanced home and road split in-conference each season. Yes, it will even out every other year, but SEC football fans and the people associated with the league live to argue in the moment! Five conference road games for a bad team sounds disastrous.

Another huge advantage here is it will afford SEC teams like Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina who have in-state rivalries over in the ACC to keep on playing those games without any hesitation. It also would technically allow teams like Alabama and LSU to schedule even more meaningful games in the non-conference. Then again, there isn’t any incentive for them to do so…

An eight-game slate keeps scheduling flexibility in a program’s back pocket, while also allowing for the revamped intra-conference rotation to set into motion and sort this thing out, alright.

Cons of an eight-game SEC football schedule

There are three major cons with an eight-game conference schedule. The first is you are straight-up killing secondary rivalries. You go in this direction, and you can say goodbye to the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and the Third Saturday in October being played annually, as well as preventing the Lone Star Showdown between Texas and Texas A&M being a renewed Thanksgiving tradition.

A second is there is no incentive for the Alabamas of the world to schedule anything remotely competitive in the non-conference. The Floridas and the Georgias of the world have to play in-state ACC rivals out of obligation. The third is by going with an eight-game conference schedule, you would be preventing eight more conference games that you could be selling to a TV network.

With the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 staying at nine, the SEC won’t be given any favors with eight.

Let’s take a look at what the good and bad parts to a nine-game SEC football schedule look like.