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Sunday, June 16, 2024

SEC Debates Boosting Conference Schedule Up To Nine Games

  • The conference is discussing the issue at this week's spring meetings.
  • The SEC would ultimately like ESPN to increase its rights fee if games were added.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC spring meetings are underway in Destin, Florida — with the future of the conference’s football scheduling system still up in the air.

The major issue is the possibility of expanding teams’ league schedules from eight to nine games per season.

Big changes are already on hand for 2024. The conference is dismantling its eastern and western divisions when Texas and Oklahoma join as part of the new 16-team format. 

The College Football Playoff itself is expanding to 12 teams — and with the SEC likely to get at least as many of the at-large bids as the rest of the country each year, many schools want more games against conference opponents to prove themselves. But playing an extra conference game (on the road every other year) could mean losing a home game against a hand-picked opponent — virtually guaranteeing a win and box-office success.

ESPN could push the SEC over the edge by boosting its rights fee, but the network is reportedly not a lock to do that, at least initially. ESPN is set to pay the conference about $710 million annually through 2034.

No major developments materialized on Tuesday, and a vote on a new scheduling system may not take place this week.

But SEC commissioner Greg Sankey would surely like to make a decision sooner rather than later, telling the Associated Press, “At some point we have to land the proverbial airplane. I think we’re ready to do that.”

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