The SEC will retain its current "6-1-1" format for football scheduling, the conference announced Sunday night. Beginning in 2016, SEC teams will additionally be required to play at least one game per season against a team from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, or Pac-12.
"This has been a thoughtful and deliberative process that has resulted in maintaining the current format and adds a provision that will bolster our collective annual non-conference schedule," said Commissioner Mike Slive. "Critical to maintaining this format is the non-conference opponent factor which gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences, and acknowledges that many of our institutions already play these opponents.
"The concept of strength-of-schedule is based on an entire 12-game schedule, a combination of both conference games together with non-conference games. Given the strength of our conference schedule supplemented by at least one major non-conference game, our teams will boast of a strong resume’ of opponents each and every year."
SEC teams will continue to play all six divisional foes, one permanent opponent from the opposite division, and a different opponent from the opposite division — the 6, 1, and 1 that has become format's shorthand.
This changes virtually nothing for Florida, which annually plays Florida State, historically the strongest of any permanent out-of-conference opponent of an SEC team. The Gators will also remain "permanent" rivals with LSU, meeting the Tigers at home in even-numbered years and in Baton Rouge in odd-numbered years. And Florida will rotate through SEC West opponents, likely on some predictable cycle that will begin with either Alabama in 2014 or a team to be determined in 2015.
Discussions about the future of SEC scheduling began in 2013, after the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M in 2012 forced scrambling of schedules for 2012 and 2013, and the possibilities of a nine-game conference schedule or a shift to a "6-2" format that would see every SEC team play two rotating cross-division opponents each season.
We'll have more on what this means for Florida and the rest of the SEC tomorrow, but, for now: Do you like this? Do you wish Florida had an "easier" permanent opponent? Are you happy that Florida is practically locked into its series with Florida State?