Future SEC Schedule Further Proof 9-Game League Format Would've Been Better

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMay 20, 2014

Texas A&M RB Tra Carson
Texas A&M RB Tra CarsonUSA TODAY Sports

Who knew that when Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers recorded "The Waiting" in 1981 that he was referring to SEC football?

The waiting will be the hardest part for many SEC programs. The conference released its future cross-divisional opponent rotation between now and 2025, and many SEC programs—some of which used to be traditional rivalries—will be waiting a long time to see each other.

Under the long-term eight-game "6-1-1" schedule format, SEC programs will play each of their six division mates, one permanent cross-division rivalry game and one rotating cross-division opponent. That means it will take 12 years to get through the home and away rotation on the other side of the division.

Essentially, what the eight-game schedule in the 6-1-1 format has done is create two different conferences—the SEC East and the SEC West.

CHARLES SMITH/Associated Press

Does Georgia really recognize Texas A&M as a member of the SEC?

Unless they meet in the SEC Championship Game before then, the Bulldogs and Aggies won't play as members of the SEC until 2019—the Aggies' eighth season in the SEC. The Bulldogs won't get the chance to visit Kyle Field in College Station until 2024, more than a decade after the Aggies joined the SEC.

That's not how this is supposed to be.

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 15: Quindarius Carr #9 of the Auburn Tigers makes a catch against Jaylen Watkins #14 of the Florida Gators at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Does anybody remember the rivalry Auburn and Florida had? The two SEC powers met every year from 1945-2002, but barring an SEC Championship Game meeting, the two won't play until 2019 in Gainesville and then again in 2024 in Auburn. 

According to James Crepea of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, that's the longest drought since prohibition.

Auburn won't play Florida until 2019 - gap of eight years is longest in series since 1917-1927 http://t.co/2dAUoZi88Y

— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) May 19, 2014

A nine-game conference schedule in the "6-1-2" format would have fixed this. Two rotating games would have cut the time it takes to get through the entire SEC in half, kept old rivalries somewhat intact and provided more of a conference feel.

Sep 8, 2012; College Station, TX, USA; SEC logo on the field before a game between the Texas A&M Aggies and Florida Gators at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

As it stands now, the SEC is more like Major League Baseball was when interleague play was first introduced in 1997. But unlike Major League Baseball, the SEC is going backward.

When the conference expanded in 2012, the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri added one divisional game to the schedule while taking away one of the rotating crossovers. Prior to expansion, those rotating crossover games came as home-and-home series in consecutive years, so it still took time to get through the conference.

But not this long.

The nine-game conference schedule championed by Alabama head coach Nick Saban would have done wondrous things for the nation's toughest football conference.

It would have kept up with the Joneses and not given conferences around the country a built-in PR weapon in the race to make the College Football Playoff, allowed fans and players to get a more accurate sense of all of the programs in the SEC and given television networks—including the new SEC Network—more compelling inventory.

Instead, we are left with two conferences—the SEC East and the SEC West—with some interleague play mixed in.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.