I think Finebaum is pretty spot on with this:
“Outside of Nick Saban’s office, there is none,” Finebaum said of support for a nine-game schedule. “I don’t see it. There are a lot of reasons for it. I think from their standpoint they are very concerned it would create more difficulty filling the bowl alignment, in terms of the number of SEC schools that go to bowl games. So, when you add another game, do the math: it’s another loss somewhere. I think the feeling at least of the coaches right now is they don’t want that. I think it’s easy to look at the other side, and frankly, I’ve always agreed with Nick Saban that nine conference games offer many positive things, especially for athletes playing to be able to see other teams in the league. Right now, you can go seven, eight or nine years and never see anyone else (cross-divisional teams) outside of the SEC Championship Game.
A ninth conference game that replaces a cupcake match means seven coaches take a loss they weren’t saddled with before. When you’re making $4+ million a year, that could be a problem. So, yeah, there’s always going to be significant resistance.
This part, though, I think Finebaum overstates.
“I also think it creates a degree of negativity outside the league,” Finebaum continued. “David Shaw from Stanford made a big deal about this a couple of years ago. The Big Ten continues to take shots. And I think the SEC leaves itself vulnerable by only having eight conference games.”
Nobody in the SEC gives a rat’s ass what David Shaw thinks. As for vulnerability, last year saw two SEC teams reach the CFP (and play for the national championship); it’s not unreasonable to think there’s a realistic possibility of a repeat in 2018. Could that change down the road? Sure, but if there’s one thing conferences are comfortable doing, it’s putting off worrying about something until it’s a real threat.
Barring expansion, we’re not getting nine conference games any time soon.