Neutral-site games have been the saving grace for dead weekends on the college football schedule. In years past there were gaps in scheduling that produced snoozers—especially early in the year—but that has changed.
Georgia and Florida State are trying to steal some of the national spotlight by scheduling a neutral-site game for the 2016 season, but thanks to a proposal moving the SEC to a nine-game schedule, the matchup may not happen.
At the ACC spring meetings Wednesday, FSU athletics director Randy Spetman told the Orlando Sentinel that talks between the schools about a neutral-site 2016 game are "moving along."
"The AD at Georgia just doesn't know if he has room to put it in there," Spetman said, referring to UGA athletics director Greg McGarity.
Spring meetings are just around the corner for the SEC, and the vote for or against the nine-game conference schedule should be on the agenda.
The 2013 season kicks off with Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta, and LSU vs. TCU in Cowboys Stadium. Should the SEC move to a nine-game rotation, these marquee neutral-site games will be a thing of the past.
The ACC is coming off an expansion of its own with the addition of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville. The conference also added an agreement with Notre Dame that adds five ACC games to the Irish schedule.
Still, there is no plan to move to a nine-game conference rotation for the ACC. In Harvey's report, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said that, "We [coaches] are pretty much all comfortable with the eight.”
SEC coaches have different opinions on the matter. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told the Athens Banner-Herald , "It could go to nine. Whatever they say is fine with me.”
Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley had this to say about the move to nine games (h/t CBSSports):
"Nine conference games and Florida State, that's a tough challenge. We'll continue to listen to the conversation. Right this second I don't love it for Florida but obviously there are 13 other schools in this league, not just one."
“I’m for playing nine conference games; I was the only person that spoke out in favor of it last year,” Saban said. “If you increase the size of the league and the number of teams you have in the league then you’ve got to play more games."
At this point the league appears split on the decision, and while it waits it is holding up the moves of other conferences.
Florida State is in a holding pattern "waiting on the SEC” to make its move.
Keeping eight games in the SEC is the right move. College football needs these types of games moving forward, but the trend of top neutral-site matchups may disappear soon.