Support for the nine-game SEC football schedule is waning with Alabama voting for the eight-game format

The SEC is expected to finalize its football scheduling format for 2024 and beyond next week when coaches and administrators gather in Miramar Beach, Florida, for the league’s annual spring meetings. One of the main issues on the table will be whether the league moves to a nine-game schedule after the expansion, a move that multiple reports are rapidly losing support for.

Administrators have been debating the proposed models since the conference announced in June 2021 that it would add Texas and Oklahoma. The finalists are either a nine-game format that would feature three permanent opponents and six rotating opponents or an eight-game format consisting of one permanent opponent and seven rotating games.

247Sports’ Brandon Marcello reports that Alabama coach Nick Saban is emerging as one of the leading voices opposed to the nine-game model. Saban has long supported adding games to the SEC schedule since 2012 when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league.

“When you increase the size of the league by 15 percent, you almost have to play more games to get a real indication of who is the best team in the league,” he said in 2012. “We should come up with some format in the future where everyone players in the league have a chance to play every team in the league. We’ve had that in the past. This format won’t necessarily give every player a chance to do that.”

Both proposed 2024 formats give teams the opportunity to face every opponent in the conference every two years, which comes close to satisfying Saban’s wishes. However, Saban he seemed a little frustrated in March when he learned of the three permanent opponents that were proposed for the Crimson Tide.

“I’ve always been a defender of playing more [conference] games,” Saban told Sports Illustrated. “But if you play more games, I think you have to fix all three [opponents] good. They’re giving us Tennessee, Auburn and LSU. I don’t know how they get there [decision].”

Marcello reports that Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State and South Carolina all opposed the nine-game model, while Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss remain undecided on their votes. Vanderbilt has not indicated which proposal it favors.

There are drawbacks to each format. The eight-game model would eliminate a current permanent opponent, meaning rivalries like Auburn-Georgia, Tennessee-Alabama and others could be in jeopardy of not being played on an annual basis. The nine-game model would keep the vast majority of rivalries intact, but could create a huge disparity in the strength of the team’s schedule.

The expanded 12-team college football playoff is also one of the factors involved. That wasn’t even a glimpse in the eyes of administrators when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the SEC, but now the path to winning one of those seats has changed dramatically since the four-team model was announced in the spring of 2012. .

Also, as Marcello points out, 12 of the soon-to-16 conference teams have four non-conference games scheduled in 2024, and nine are complete through 2026.