One and done

While this Pete Thamel piece on SEC scheduling got some attention yesterday for this…

One idea certain to be discussed by SEC officials in Destin is the notion of the SEC creating, running and profiting from its own intra-SEC postseason. The most obvious model is an eight-team one, but there are others that will be discussed.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey stressed that no seismic change is imminent. But he did mention that an SEC-only playoff, in a variety of forms, was among the nearly 40 different models that SEC officials discussed at their fall meetings.

“As we think as a conference,” he told ESPN on Monday, “it’s vitally important we think about the range of possibilities.”

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin echoed that notion to ESPN: “We have an incredibly strong league, one that will be even stronger once Oklahoma and Texas join. The focus should be on how we as a league use that strength to further position the SEC as we face new realities. Commissioner Sankey has encouraged our athletic directors to think creatively, and an SEC-only playoff is a different idea that we should absolutely consider an option.”

… I’m a little skeptical that rates as anything more than a less than subtle reminder to the conference’s peers that the SEC has too much leverage to ignore in the battle to define the CFP’s future format.

What I did find more interesting was one of the options Thamel writes is on the table as Sankey and his member schools debate how to structure regular season scheduling once the expansion to 16 schools occurs.

1 and 7: If the SEC sticks with eight league games, this model would be best for the overall exposure and variety of league games, which Sankey values. (More Texas vs. Alabama and less of annual Georgia vs. Kentucky matchups.) Teams would get one rivalry game that’s played every year — think Auburn and Alabama or Oklahoma and Texas — and then rotate through the other seven. The eight-game schedule would be better suited to the current four-team playoff system, as it allows for the customary cushy SEC non-league game late in the season. When there’s a four-team playoff, there’s little margin for error, and that could bring hesitation to play more league games and risk missing out on a CFP spot.

I know a lot of the conventional wisdom out there from people who are better connected to the decision makers than I’ll ever be is that the SEC is a lock to go to a nine-game conference schedule, but I still have this nagging feeling that there are plenty of coaches and ADs who would prefer to stick with the current eight-game format.  Bowl eligibility drives some of that, but Thamel may also have a point about the CFP there.

If all that’s true, the 1 and 7 format leaves a lot to be desired for some fan bases.  Georgia, of course, would lose the Auburn annual rivalry.  I have no idea what school South Carolina would be paired with permanently, as it wouldn’t be UGA.

On the other hand, the Vols would love the 1 and 7, as they’d lose Alabama as an annual opponent and keep Vandy.

What do y’all think?


UPDATE:  Ross Dellenger confirms the gist of Thamel’s story.

A week before the league’s leaders gather in Destin for their annual spring meetings, the 35 has been cut to two: an eight-game format where teams play one permanent opponent and seven rotating opponents (1–7 model); and a nine-game format where teams play three permanent opponents and six rotating (3–6).

While most officials feel strongly that divisions are likely gone, and a pod system first floated out in the fall has been eliminated, the conference is virtually split on what to do next: eight conference games or nine? With this issue—and so many others—the SEC is divided mostly on revenue-generating lines.

Now there’s a surprise.

… For instance, an eight-game model would allow every team in the league an additional fourth nonconference game to, some might say, pick up a needed victory—something the bottom teams need more than their big brothers.

And what do their big brothers want? To make the league more valuable than it already is by increasing the number of inner-conference matchups. A property that is already incredibly valuable could be made more valuable.

“We have to do what’s in the best interest of the league,” says one SEC administrator. That’s why the big boys might get their way. Most feel like at the end of this debate, the SEC will be playing a nine-game conference schedule in a 3–6 model.

Dellenger writes that the pro-nine group has offered a compromise to the others.

Already, there is compromise from one group to the other in regard to the three permanent opponents. In several versions of the permanent opponents floating around the league, it appears that the top eight teams would play two of their three permanent games against fellow top eight teams. They’d get two tops and one bottom. The bottom eight would get two bottoms and one from the top half.

It’s times like these when I can’t help but wonder what McGarity would do if he were still the AD.  Probably offer for UGA to play three top tier opponents annually, because, McGarity.



Filed under SEC Football

57 responses to “One and done

  1. debbybalcer

    I wish OU and TX would just go away. No need to change anything. I would rather 3 permanent than just one. Rivalries mean something and I really would rather keep those than play teams we really are not connected to and have all the travel time.

    Liked by 10 people

    • fisheriesdawg

      Let’s add Arkansas, South Carolina, and Missouri to that list. I’m OK with A&M, but I’m also OK with sending them back to the SWC (heck, we’ve only played them once since they joined). 10-team round robin. Now we don’t have to worry about how often we play everyone because we play everyone every year. Problem solved.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Reinmart

      I hate that they are coming to the SEC as well but they wouldn’t be coming if they weren’t invited.


    • Debby, I did think it was funny that the OU and Texas fans were doing the SEC chant at the GameDay set at the Red River Shootout last year.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. theotherdoug

    They’re bluffing about an SEC only playoff. No way that happens with The Alliance!


    • Faltering Memory

      Have an SEC playoff and then a challenge game with the Alliance chump at MB or Jerry World on Saturday night before the Super Bowl.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Castleberry

    Four four-team divisions. Each school plays eight “regular season games”
    Then schedule gets dynamic:
    Week 9 the 1s play the 1s, 2s plays 2s, and so on.
    Week 10 week 9 winners play (including SECCG). Losers also play.

    Each division rotates hosting week 9 and 10 over the years.

    SECCG remains in Atlanta on separate weekend.

    Better home schedule, by far, for all schools in the conference.
    Smaller conferences can’t compete with format.

    Monster TV contract allows conference to remain indifferent on CFP format.


  4. theotherdoug

    I think they hold the nine game schedule for when they need more money from ESPN.

    I think all of us think the losing Auburn sucks. I don’t think the SEC cares.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Down Island Way

      On the back side, addition of ut & ou to the sec seems to be nightmarish, (any/all scheduling, divisions should have been agreed to …PRIOR to their acceptance) only way to really GAS about either, is when they arrive on UGA footballs schedule, on the other hand vandy doesn’t care either…GO DAWGS!


  5. Derek

    I like the idea of a lot of rotating games. Not sure why you can’t maintain 2 to 3 permanents and rotate the balance of the schedule.


    • They can if they go to 9 conference games. I guess that is the million dollar question. When or if they do.

      If they have 9 conference games you can have 3 permanent opponents and then rotate the other 12 teams in groups of 6 every other year which would mean you would travel to every stadium every four years.

      Unfortunately, that likely makes too much sense and is too easy for it to happen…lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tony BarnFart

        I know. Good gosh, the best possible compromise is the 3+6.

        Tell the assembly that cupcake non-conference games should never trump bedrock rivalries or we’re losing the forest for the trees.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. David K

    I think it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the SEC adds more teams. If they pick up schools like Clemson, FSU, Miami, etc they can get to 20 teams and make 4 divisions of 5 teams. Then the idea of a 4 team SEC playoff makes sense.


  7. Russ

    Making the top teams all play each other every year is a great way to level out the records, enforce some parity and insure SEC teams are left out of a wider playoff because of their records. I think it’s dumb if they want to compete in a broader playoff. If we’re only concerned with the regular season, then it will make it fun and interesting. But a 2-loss SEC team isn’t going to unseat an undefeated team from another region for a playoff spot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tony BarnFart

      But when we’re we not having tough games, conference or otherwise ? The only debate is whether the 9th game was the breaking point of difficulty ? But half of our future non-conference games that drew so much excitement included the two newcomers. So it’s a wash really. And frankly, all of the scheduling trends indicate that, at least among the cited Top 8, more difficult non-conference scheduling was the norm.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Granthams Replacement

    I would still hate auburn if Georgia played them every other year.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I will detest any scheduling model that ends the DSOR or the WLOCP as an annual game. Everything else doesn’t matter to me … 8 or 9, pods, permanent opponents, or divisions.

    The bottom line is that the conference is going to line up behind whatever the Mouse is willing to pay the most money for while maximizing the league’s opportunity to get 2 teams in the 4 or to place as many teams in an expanded field as possible.

    Oklahoma and Texas aren’t even in the league yet, and they are already ripping the fabric of the SEC apart at the seams.

    Liked by 8 people

  10. paulwesterdawg

    No format can make everyone happy. When you game it out you will see. UGA would lose Auburn which feels unacceptable.

    In a 2-6 split, the Gamecocks don’t get UGA and UK doesn’t get UT. Also in a 2-6 split, I’m not sure that LSU gets Bama, Texas, A&M, Texas or Auburn. That’s dumb.

    In a 3-5 split, Uk doesn’t get UT or the Vols get the easiest rotation on earth. But it’s really only UK that has history with someone that doesn’t get anything they really care about. Everyone else is kind of flexible or gets close. We would get AU, UF and SC almost 100% lock. Gators likely get SC, UGA and UT. Vols likely get UA, UF and Vandy. Auburn gets Bama, UGA and someone easy.

    I love the 3-5 rotation. In a 16 team league, Every 5 years you would play every team twice. Instead of the current model of playing every team once every 6 years in a 14 team league.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paulwesterdawg

      Edit. In a 1-7 split we lose Auburn. Not in all scenarios.


      • I think you have it right. I’d be fine with a 3-5 or 3-6 setup.

        I’d be even finer with the SEC only being 12 teams and not letting a bunch of Texans stroll in like they run the place, but that ship has very much sailed.


        • 81Dog


          None of thus schedule pretzeling would be needed if we weren’t adding “brands” to THE SEC that have zero reason save money to be in the SEC. Sure, let’s pile the old SWC in and basically wreck the thing that made THE SEC special: the rivalries. The playjng of nearby teams, whose fans you see everywhere, every day, 365 days a year. Besides the fact Texas has ruined evet conference it ever joined, who gives a shit about Texas?

          I’m happy to play good out of conference games. I’m not scared of competition. But there s a reason “it just means more” down here. I hate Auburn, TN, Alabama, FL. I’m tired of bending over so ESPN can get richer. The “fans will take it, it’s more money for us” approach sucks. CFB is different than the NFL because of tradition. Nobody went to the University of the Falcons. That deep connection we feel to our school includes the distaste we share for our school’s rivals. Sure, blow that up.



    • Tony BarnFart

      You can’t really get the math right unless you have an odd number of permanent opponents (to give you an even number of rotators on/off). For the scheduling math, you mentally need to think of the league as 15 opponents instead of 16 teams since Georgia ain’t never playin’ Georgia pawlll.


  11. Biggen

    As long as it’s not “pods”. I am so sick of hearing every talking heads say “pods”. They just regurgitate each others regurgitation about F-U-C-K-I-N-G “pods”.

    Liked by 3 people

    • carolinadawg

      What’s the difference between pods and a 3-6 schedule? Pods would have four teams, so you’d have three permanent opponents each year. The 3-6 schedule is just pods with a different name.


      • Biggen

        Its the name. Sounds like they ripped it out of an alien scifi move. Is “pods” the best name they can come up with??


      • Tony BarnFart

        In a pod, all 4 teams have the same permanent 3 opponents and presumably the structure of the pods flows into determining the champion / championship game participants. In a 3-6, everyone has their own unique 3 permanent opponents and all teams are in a single pile with, presumably, overall conference record followed by legislated tie breaking rules governing the participants in the championship game.


  12. bwaredogs

    Between Tennessee and A&M, who is a top and who is a bottom? Seems like the other 14 are obvious.


  13. paulwesterdawg

    The 3-6 with the compromise is brilliant. Missed that on the first read.

    But who are the top 8???
    Uga, Bama and OU are top 8 for sure.
    You have to assume that UF and LSU are top 8. So that’s 5

    Who are the other 3? Texas as a brand is Top 8. That leaves 2 spots for TAMU, Auburn and UT. Would be the break of a lifetime if the Vols are bottom 8. They would get Bama, UK and Vandy permanent. Dropping UGA and uF.

    Then again with the speed of that rotation, they would still get us every other year.


    • Per Dellenger,

      … But most within the conference would consider the top half Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida. The bottom would be Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Missouri.


      • Russ

        Can we swap Arkansas with Florida? I’d love seeing Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina officially acknowledged as “lower half of the conference”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • miltondawg

        Lol. Tennessee will be thrilled when they find out their “storied” program is considered a bottom half of the SEC program and newcomer Texas hasn’t been relevant since Colt McCoy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        That makes no sense to me. Right now, this morning, I would put Kentucky, Arkansas and probably Tennessee ahead of Florida. Kentucky has actually proven it. Are the ‘tops’ based on current on-field performance, money spent on football or media bias (see your post about Stetson)? Why would Texas be a top? They couldn’t even win in their former conference. And that is my thinking this morning. Move forward to the fall, and that opinion might reasonably change and when you think further five years or so into the future (and recall schedules have been locked up several years at a time) the scenery is likely to be markedly different. This is the kind of idea that sounds sweet and makes some sense except that logistically I see huge buyer’s remorse.


      • Doggoned

        I get the logic, but it still rankles me when I see old-line SEC teams ranked at the bottom while newcomers and outsiders like Texas, Oklahoma and, yes, A&M are in the top tier. I hope we don’t lose the fiber that has made the SEC unique. The ACC lost its uniqueness via expansion. I’d hate for us to lose the allure of our conference by sliding away from the Southeast and going full southwest.


      • I’d be very hesitant to do this “tops”/”bottoms” setup unless it could be re-jiggered every five years or so. I realize that we’re in a period of increased dominance by FBS’ top teams, but you still can’t precisely predict from one year to the next who the tops and bottoms will be. Ole Miss, for example, while not a traditional powerhouse, might have something to say about being relegated to the bottom half while LSU and TAMU—two teams they embarrassed last season—get to kick it at the top.

        There’s another cautionary tale in the ACC. When they were splitting up into divisions back in 2004, a lot of their decision-making was driven by the belief that having FSU and Miami in separate divisions would set up a sweet title-game matchup every year; Clemson was an afterthought. Now it’s 2021, Clemson is (or was) their only real powerhouse, and FSU and Miami can’t get out of their own way.


      • 81Dog

        What happens 5 years from now if some teams improve and some falter? Relegation? THE SCHEDULE AINT FAIR, PAWWWWWLLL!

        This is all dumb. I guess the media and the suits have set it up great when we are arguing about how to do it when the real issue is why do it.


  14. Top half vs bottom half won’t fly. It’s about money and spreading it around. They’ll come up with a revenue sharing formula and then schedule the non-permanent opponents each year based on last season’s records…just like the NFL. As long as we get the 3-6 model, I think fans will be OK with that but it then does not guarantee the kids a chance to play everyone in a 4 year cycle…will depend on results. Disgusting that the leadership no longer even pretends to care about the kids, just the money. That’s not the mission statement and every decision should be made through the lens of what’s best for the SAs. They are in full “this is a business” mode except there are no shareholders who can influence the direction these greedy idiots are taking.

    Liked by 3 people

    • JoeDashDawg

      I’ve not seen scheduling based on past season success suggested once, by anyone, and they had 35 models to discuss. I suppose it could have been one of those models that has basically been eliminated. Where are you hearing this from?


  15. uga97

    Sankey has 1 north star… growth streaming eyeball money. No one is going to tune into the SEC network from the couch or their app & watch the 12 noon cupcake games….no one. Go to 9 and if 16 teams drop a cupcake thats instant value. Plus +vandy is a built in cupcake every few years regardless.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. godawgs1701

    This is all so stupid. The quality of play in college football is so far below the NFL, even in the SEC. The reason people watch the sport is because of the passion that comes from the tradition and the history. Once you make college football the NFL then why in the heck are you still watching college football? College football has the most important regular season in sports outside of maybe European soccer. These people are determined to murder the cash cow just because they’re going to be able to get more milk out of it in the last year or two before it croaks. I know why they’re even playing around with the SEC-only postseason idea so I won’t waste time on that farce of a “proposal” but the rest of this stuff, getting rid of so much of what’s made the SEC special just for the chance to get more playoff teams and a little extra money (when we are freaking AWASH in money as it is)? Sad. Truly sad.

    Liked by 5 people

    • RangerRuss

      You were doing so well, 1701. Then you compared College Football to eurotrash soccer. Whether that is true or not (I’ll never know) it’s just bad form.


      • godawgs1701

        I don’t follow European soccer, but those guys just play the schedule and then the team with the best record at the end gets the trophy, no playoffs. Among American sports, the regular season means the most in college football, but we definitely can’t say it’s the only thing that exists. lol

        Liked by 1 person

  17. W Cobb Dawg

    Um, wouldn’t a nine game schedule be close to the equivalent of an in-conference playoff?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m rooting for 3-6 and expecting 1-7. And Tennessee getting dumped into the bottom half is delicious.


  19. MGW

    We going to be revisiting this top and bottom 8 thing every several years I presume?

    Because that would only be fair…. but mostly it would mean we could start Texas down there where they belong.

    Show me 8 teams they’ve been better than over the last 4 years or so in the new SEC. And don’t forget they have been stinking it up even in the cushy big 12. A&M needs to be their permanent top 8 team.


  20. trbodawg

    I think it would be funny to designate one UT in the top, and one UT in the bottom, but don’t say which is which. Pass the popcorn and watch the heads explode.


  21. Tony BarnFart

    I really think the designation and the alleged compromise of top/bottom is kind of inconsequential. Many of those “top” fanbases are going to consider their 2 “top” opponents damn near sacrosanct anyway. I’d try to do something besides having Florida play OU on a permanent basis. That seems dumb.

    Generally, I would make geography an equal consideration vs balance because, as gets overlooked, everyone is still getting 6 rotators every year and plays the entire conference a minimum of twice in 4 years. Nobody is going to really duck and hide much because they have 2 “easy” permanents to somebody else’s 1. At most, not holding steady and firm to a perceived dead even top/bottom is really just talking about ONE GAME. Because nobody is going to give LSU mizzou, miss state and vandy. And even that one game “break” is no guarantee (who the hell considers ole miss an easy game right now or even arkansas).

    There is almost always a middle 8 in actual results that includes several of the “top” teams below “bottom” teams. The bottom of the SEC West in 2021 was rounded out by A&M, LSU and Auburn– all below Ole Miss, State and Arkansas. See Also, Handbags.


  22. Jeremiah Stevens

    Since we want to keep two annual rivalries, it sounds like we’re all cheering for 9 conference games. I know I am. Here’s hoping the old “what makes Mickey more money will end up happening” rule doesn’t fail us now!!


  23. Just do 3-6 and be done with it. This is a case where Sankey (and Morehead as SEC president) needs to show some leadership.

    1-7 is a joke. Here’s a taste of the annual games that will be gone:

    Georgia-South Carolina
    Either Texas-Oklahoma or Texas-Texas A&M (assuming the rivalry would restart when Tx enters the SEC)
    Ole Miss-LSU
    Arkansas-Texas A&M

    TBH, this is a situation where ESPN also needs to step in and say the 1-7 model doesn’t work for them.


  24. Hobnail_Boot

    Here’s a stab at a 3-6 with Tops/Bottoms:

    Alabama – Auburn, LSU, Tennessee
    Auburn – Alabama, Georgia, Vandy
    Florida – Georgia, Oklahoma, Kentucky
    Georgia – Auburn, Florida, SC
    LSU – Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss
    Oklahoma – Florida, Texas, Missouri
    Texas – Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas
    Texas A&M – LSU, Texas, MSU

    Arkansas – MSU, Missouri, Texas
    Kentucky – SC, Tennessee, Florida
    MSU – Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
    Missouri – Arkansas, SC, Oklahoma
    Ole Miss – MSU, Vandy, LSU
    SC – Kentucky, Missouri, Georgia
    Tennessee – Kentucky, Vandy, Alabama
    Vandy – Ole Miss, Tennessee, Auburn


  25. rigger92

    Reading this post, “suddenly, everything sucks”.

    2020 was the most engaging season in my memory and it was because of the all conference schedule. I know, it’s selfish of me to want to see the kids square up in “real” games for an entire season and I do feel some guilt from that, it is the optimum product for entertainment and revenue. One of those things, I wouldn’t press for it in an official capacity but as a fan I would love it.


  26. bucketheridge

    We don’t lose Auburn if they’re moved to the east.


  27. willypmd

    I love 1+7 and a chance for UGA to continue to schedule aggressively OOC.

    Lets us eliminate weak league playoff competition (Clemson last year and Oregon this year) and gives a reasonable chance of having undefeated SEC championship game participants that can still backdoor into the playoff, so it lessons our chance of being a top 4 team but getting edged out because we had to play the best team in our conference championship game.