The Southeastern Conference spring sessions in Destin, Fla. in May and June are all about perms.
Not the awful men’s haircuts of the 1970s, but the three constant opponents that all 16 SEC football teams will have for the 2024 schedule when Texas and Oklahoma join the league.
Before the meetings, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey hopes to nail down a new nine-game SEC schedule in the format of six non-annual opponents and three permanent annual opponents. The three perms for each of the 16 teams may not be decided before the meetings or after by votes of the league presidents and athletic directors.
Coaches like Alabama’s Nick Saban can only speak their minds. The other six teams will move in and out over a four-year window for the 16.
The SEC will soon decide on the 2024 timeline
Sankey plans to meet with SEC presidents and athletic directors this week in Nashville at the SEC men’s basketball tournament.
For the past few weeks, Sankey has been spinning around three permanent opponents for every league member in the league based on #1 and #2 rivalries, geography, and balance. But the latter gets fun because even some of the best teams historically aren’t great every year. As former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer said of the league’s transition to 12 teams and two divisions in 1992, the balance is changing. geography not.
Sometimes historically very good or great teams become average or even poor, like the 2019 national champion, LSU falling in 2020 and 21, and Auburn now. And Tennessee for several years up to the last two years. Sometimes historically bad teams like Kentucky and Vanderbilt become good for a short time. So ultimately, things even out anyway, Kramer said.
SEC Possible trio of permanent opponents for all 16 teams
According to sources around the SEC, the following is one of the models that Sankey has circulated around the league, versions of which have been picked up by various websites and publications:
ALABAMA – Auburn, Tennessee, LSU.
ARKANSAS – Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas.
CARBONNS – Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt.
FLORIDA – Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma.
GEORGIA – Auburn, Fla., Kentucky.
KENTUCKY- State of Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia.
LSU – Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Alabama.
MISSOURI – Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma.
State of Mississippi – Ole Miss, Kentucky, Texas A&M.
OLE MISS – State of Mississippi, LSU, Arkansas.
OKLAHOMA – Texas, Missouri, Florida.
SOUTH AFRICA – Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky.
TENNESSEE- Vanderbilt, Alabama, South Carolina.
Texas – Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas.
TEXAS A&M – Texas, LSU, Mississippi State.
VANDERBILT – Tennessee, Auburn, Missouri.
The above mostly makes sense as it keeps some of the best and oldest rivalries intact. However, LSU-Florida is gone, having consistently been one of, if not the best, annual televised game between West and East since the SEC moved to divisions in 1992. These two also met annually for decades before the division game. It’s a natural game to bring two states together that don’t border each other, though only tiny portions of Mississippi and Alabama separate them. But the world won’t end without them playing. They are secondary rivals.
In this model, too, the border struggle between Tennessee and Kentucky has disappeared. That’s meant to keep things balanced for historically mediocre South Carolina. Putting Kentucky on Tennessee’s yearly schedule and moving South Carolina from Tennessee to Georgia would make geographical sense. Kentucky and Tennessee, and Georgia and South Carolina share borders. But that would leave South Carolina with Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia each year. Florida wasn’t great last year. But for the most part historically, this is a killer fight for South Carolina that the SEC never won.
SEC did not and did not dictate a schedule shift in 1992
Remember, before the SEC created its new divisional move schedules in 1992, Kramer and his staff divided the 12 teams into haves and have nots based on history and continued potential, and created the schedule based on that. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee were the winners. Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and newcomers South Carolina and Arkansas were the have-nots. Little, if anything, has changed in these terms.
Texas A&M entered 2012 as a historic have, though things have been going badly of late. Missouri did not perform for a historic record that year, although it was good early on.
Another problem with the above model is that it’s just too boring and tired. The SEC enters an exciting new world of television, travel and new rivalries by adding Texas and Oklahoma, which clearly belong with Arkansas and South Carolina since they don’t have any. The pairing is also way sexier than the 2012 signings of A&M and Mizzou. Still, two of the best teams historically — Alabama and LSU — have played the same old teams. Alabama and LSU were scheduled to play Oklahoma and Texas, respectively.
SEC New Football Schedule for 2024 by OutKick
The SEC will continue to cling too much to the past with the above schedule model. With that in mind, OutKick would like to see here the three consistent opponents for all 16 SEC teams, also based on history and geography. And remember, even if a team doesn’t play a team every year, they still play each team twice in four-year windows:
ALABAMA – Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma.
Arkansas – Missouri, Ole Miss, Oklahoma.
CARBONNS – Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt.
FLORIDA – State of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi.
GEORGIA – Auburn, Fla., South Carolina.
KENTUCKY- South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri.
LSU – Alabama, Texas, Ole Miss.
State of Mississippi – Ole Miss, Florida, Texas A&M.
MISSOURI – Arkansas, Texas A&M, Kentucky.
OKLAHOMA – Texas, Alabama, Arkansas.
OLE MISS – State of Mississippi, Arkansas, LSU.
SOUTH AFRICA – Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky.
TENNESSEE- Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt.
Texas – Texas A&M, Oklahoma, LSU.
TEXAS A&M – Texas, Mississippi, Missouri.
VANDERBILT – Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky.
Sorry Alabama-Tennessee, this game hasn’t done it for anyone but the old-school folks of Tennessee and Alabama in decades. In its heyday, this game was about money due to geographic proximity. Now both schools are making more money than they can handle. And remember that the lack of a rivalry makes the heart hate all the more.
Removing Tennessee as Alabama’s annual opponent allows him to play against Oklahoma. What a combination of classic brand forces that will be. It’s also fresh as the two have only played six times! And hey, not that it matters, but Saban might like this one better since Tennessee is better than Oklahoma at the moment.
Sorry LSU-Texas A&M. But LSU-Texas makes more sense. This meeting is also fresh as the frontier schools, each being flagship institutions, have only met 18 times, but only twice in this century.
Now Texas may soon have the toughest permanent trio with Texas A&M, Oklahoma and LSU, but hey, everything is big in Texas, including the difficulty of your schedule. So, welcome to the SEC.