Over at The Athletic yesterday, Aaron Suttles and Seth Emerson ($$) filed a story about where things stand with the SEC’s scheduling logistics in the face of its soon to be 16-school size. Picking my way through the bones, here are what seem to be the key points:
- There seems to be a priority being placed on schools facing each other in football more often than once every six years. According to Greg Sankey, that is something the conference planned to address even before this last round of expansion.
- The conference has not walked away from staying with a divisional format, but it’s almost impossible to square that with a more frequent rotation between teams unless the SEC either goes to a nine-game conference schedule or does away with its permanent cross-division rivalry games.
- Speaking of expanding the conference schedule, it sounds like there’s still a fair amount of resistance to walking away from the current eight-game format because of the potential impact on bowl eligibility for some schools.
- The top two priorities are exactly what you’d expect — not screwing up the cash cow that is the SECCG and now harming the conference’s chances to place team(s) in the SECCG.
There’s the expected “all options are on the table” talk there, and in this case, I’m sure that’s not an exaggeration. The problem Sankey has is that there’s no magic formula that will satisfy every school. Alabama and Georgia, for example, have bigger fish to fry than worrying about bowl eligibility, but that’s of little comfort at places like, say, Missouri and South Carolina, which scraped their way to bowl games last season.
Another consideration not fleshed out is how the hierarchy of schools is determined if the SEC ditches the divisional format. Whether you call it division-less or pods, who decides the top two teams to earn berths in the SECCG? Is that something the conference subcontracts to the CFP selection committee? (Probably.)
My guess is that divisional play is about to be sacrificed on the altar of postseason efficiency, although look for Sankey and Company to sell it as really being about fan friendliness. Should that be where things wind up, I’ll be curious to see if there’s any change to the way we all perceive the SECCG, especially once the day comes when the CFP expands to twelve.