ATHENS - The SEC is moving closer to football scheduling decisions for 2013 and beyond, though there hasn't been a formal vote yet. Meanwhile, a scheduling decision for basketball has been reached, and will be in the hands of the coaches soon.
I just got off the phone with Larry Templeton, the former Mississippi State athletics director and the point man for the SEC on upcoming schedules. Templeton has been meeting regularly with the 14 athletics directors and other SEC officials. Here's what Templeton was at liberty to say:
- First, just to get to the most important thing for Georgia fans, yes the Georgia-Auburn series, as well as cross-divisional games, are set to remain.
"I would say that the permanent games are probably as safe as anything that's on the table," Templeton said. "I think there is a strong commitment to keep the traditional games in this league. And to do that you have to keep the permanent opponents."
- So how do you do that within an eight-game format? Interestingly, Templeton said a nine-game schedule isn't officially off the table yet.
"It was on the table and is still technically on the table. There have been no votes to say this won't happen," Templeton said. "There are some institutions that have some interest (in nine SEC games). I don't have a feel that it's strong enough to place in there. But I've been in enough A.D.'s meetings where that pendelum changes from one to the other."
That's not to say anyone should take away that a nine-game schedule is likely. It just hasn't been ruled out yet. The main reservation among A.D.'s, beyond an unbalanced number of home and away games, is losing the flexibility to schedule the maximum amount of non-conference home games, or a marquee matchup like Georgia-Clemson.
"The idea of playing seven home games is important," Templeton said. "The other thing, you go to nine games, there's seven winners and seven losers."
In other words, it's harder for those seven losers to get bowl eligible.
- So with an eight-game schedule still likely, how will it work? The committee is down to two or three formats. One of them, which has the most traction, is a 6-1-1- format (six division games, one cross-division rivalry, and one floating non-division game) where a home-and-home series doesn't have to happen in consecutive years. For instance, if Georgia goes to Alabama in 2013 then Alabama doesn't have to come back to Georgia in 2014. (And I'm not reporting Georgia and Alabama are playing in 2013. That's just an example.)
Templeton said he hoped the A.D.'s would be able to meet again in late April or early May, and either vote there or make enough progress to finish off things at the summer meetings in Destin, Fla.
"We're close," he said. "But what we're trying to do is make sure the A.D.'s have the ability to look at all the different format options and we've zeroed in on two or three of those formats. And we're trying to give them some full rotation data, as to what the rotations would look like."
- The SEC has decided on a basketball scheduling format for 2012-13, but Templeton wasn't comfortable divulging it because the coaches haven't seen it yet.
Templeton did confirm that it will be an 18-game schedule, and that there will not be divisions. He did not want to get into who will play who.
"Going to 18 games was actually decided before we decided to take the two extra teams (Missouri and Texas A&M)," Templeton said. "We then decided to keep that."