Gators, LSU to remain permanent rivals in SEC scheduling format
After all the talk about potential major change with the SEC going to a 9-game format, the league has decided to remain mostly the same - retaining its current eight-game conference scheduling format.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Sunday evening the league schools has votedto retain the current eight-game format, but will add a strength-of-schedule component thatwill requre member schools to play an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 opponent on an annual basis.
Because Florida annually plays Florida State, which is in the ACC, essentially nothing changes for the Gators.
The Gators will also remain permanent cross-division rivals with LSU, which is in the SEC West. And that did not set well with LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who has been critical of the permanent cross-division opponents saying it's an unfair advantage for some schools which are permanent rivals with schools that traditionally are not powerhouses in the league.
“I am very disappointed that the leaders of the SEC disregard the competitive advantage that permanent partners award to certain schools," Alleva told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "It is definitely an advantage that should not exist in such a great league.
"We share all the revenue and expenses yet we cannot have a balanced, fair, equitable schedule,” he continued. “LSU has played Florida and Georgia 19 times since 2000, and Bama has played them eight times. Is that fair?”
SEC presidents voted 10-4 to kee the permanent rivals. Among those voting in the affirmative was UF president Bernie Machen.
Each SEC team will continue to play eight conference football games per season, to include six games against division opponents and two games against non-division opponents. One of the non-division opponents will be a permanent annual opponent and the other non-division opponent will rotate each year.
"This has been a thoughtful and deliberative process that has resulted in maintaining the current format and adds a provision that will bolster our collective annual non-conference schedule," Slive said. "Critical to maintaining this format is the non-conference opponent factor which gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences, and acknowledges that many of our institutions already play these opponents."
Florida coach Will Muschamp has said repeatedly he would support whatever the league decided, but felt nine games would make the conference much tougher for every school.