In the ever evolving world of college football, the Southeastern Conference recently made a move that will change the face of SEC scheduling from 2014 through the 2025 season.
With the goal of maintaining the annual existence of non-divisional rivalry contests, the SEC will continue an eight-game conference schedule while introducing one permanent non-divisional game, as well as a non-divisional contest which rotates every season.
For those on the outside looking in when it comes to how the SEC is designed in football, the conference, which is home to 14 institutions, is divided in half to form the SEC East and the SEC West. Each school is required to play every school in their particular division, thus equaling a total of six conference games per team. The aforementioned permanent non-divisional games, as well as the rotating non-divisional contests, will be used to form the eight-game schedule for all SEC teams.
In respect to the permanent cross-divisional games, those contests will be deemed the “rivalry” games, of which many SEC schools have taken part in for decades. The annual clash between Alabama (West) and Tennessee (East) is an ideal example of a non-divisional rivalry that has been played for generations.
Even though the parameters have been defined when it comes to the SEC’s new format, as with any change or long-term agreement, the final decision, in respect to non-divisional games, has been met with mixed reviews.
For the purists, the ability to maintain several of the most cherished rivalries in all of college football is obviously a positive, however, for others, the new policy implemented by the officials within the Southeastern Conference has been called into question.
Due to the newly created annual rotation of a single game in respect to non-divisional play, some teams will go years without facing-off on the gridiron. Gaps so significant, that multiple recruiting classes will come and go without facing every team in the SEC. One random example of the aforementioned gap comes in the form of Auburn and Florida. Having gone head-to-head in regular season action in 2011, under the SEC’s new policy, the Tigers and Gators will not meet again until 2019. Georgia is Auburn’s permanent non-divisional game, while Florida’s cross-divisional rival is LSU. Due to this fact, Auburn and Florida will be forced to wait on the rotation to “play out” before they will face each other again.
The discussion in respect to the SEC’s new policy will probably last for a couple of months, and then be dissolved by the pageantry that comes with live games in the fall. In the constantly changing world that is the modern-age of college football, most people, fans especially, will likely roll with the punches while rooting for their favorite team to dominate the next opponent on the schedule…regardless of division.
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