Scott Carter’s Blog Carter’s Corner
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Les Miles preferred that the annual Florida-LSU game take a hike, but the SEC announced Sunday that the game is hanging around on the conference schedule.
As part of its announcement Sunday regarding the format for future football scheduling, the SEC released the permanent non-division opponents.
For the Gators, that game remains against LSU. The two teams have played every year since 1971 but when the conference began to review its football scheduling format in the spring of 2013, Miles made it clear he wouldn't mind facing an SEC East team other than Florida each year.
Florida coach Will Muschamp was in favor of keeping the game, which is one of the league's most colorful rivalries.
Personally, I've always liked the Florida-LSU game on the schedule. (Memo: Please do not egg my house tonight for saying that. Twitter reaction seemed to not agree with my view). The Gators will still face another SEC West school each season on a rotating basis, but games against Alabama, Auburn, Missouri, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Mississippi State will be spread out.
Here are the permanent non-division opponents are as listed below:
· Alabama (west) vs. Tennessee (east)
· Arkansas (west) vs. Missouri (east)
· Auburn (west) vs. Georgia (east)
· LSU (west) vs. Florida (east)
· Ole Miss (west) vs. Vanderbilt (east)
· Mississippi State (west) vs. Kentucky (east)
· Texas A&M (west) vs. South Carolina (east)
Meanwhile, the SEC has added a strength-of-schedule component that requires all schools to play an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 opponent on an annual basis starting in 2016.
In Florida's case, that doesn't mean much. The Gators already face FSU each year from the ACC and the two schools recently announced an extension of the rivalry through 2018.
As for maintaining an eight-game schedule instead of going to a nine-game schedule, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive had this to say in a release:
"The existing strength of the SEC was certainly a significant factor in the decision to play eight games," Slive said. "In fact, just last year, five of our schools comprised the top five toughest schedules in the nation according to the NCAA and nine ranked in the top 20.
"A number of our schools play annual ACC opponents, and recent history shows our schools are already playing a significant number of strong non-conference opponents across the country on a home and home basis or in neutral site games.
Here's the bottom line in Florida's case: the Gators will continue to play one of the nation's toughest schedules with annual games against SEC East rivals Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and newcomer Missouri, LSU from the West and FSU from the ACC.
After the SEC schedule and FSU, that leaves UF three games each season to be creative in the schedule such as neutral-site games such as the one Florida has scheduled against Michigan in 2017 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Of course, there's nothing like SEC football to wake up Twitter on a Sunday night.
Here is some reaction to the SEC's decision to stay at eight games:
The guys at Indiana and Colorado will need to develop a taste for sweet tea.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) April 27, 2014
Bottom line: SEC believes someone's going to have to show the league it needs 9 SEC games for playoff purposes.— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) April 27, 2014
Perfect compromise on SEC schedule. Keeps equal number of home and away conf. games. Strengthens overall schedule. Keeps UGA-Auburn, Bama-UT— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) April 27, 2014
Interesting resolution to scheduling issue in SEC: staying at 8 games, mandating one non-conference game vs opponent from other Big 5 league— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 27, 2014
#LSU AD Joe Alleva: "Very disappointed leaders of the SEC disregard competitive advantage that permanent partners award to certain schools."— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) April 27, 2014
@GatorZoneScott They should only count games in your own division for the SEC standings. Only way to be completely fair.— Matt Bortis (@mattbortis24) April 27, 2014
@GatorZoneScott it has made for a lot of great games but SEC should eliminate divisions in football— chad edwards (@cedwards1650) April 27, 2014
@GatorZoneScott I can't wait for Florida returning to A&M, maybe I'll get tickets as my 40th bday gift— BenThePsychO (@gatorfan82) April 27, 2014
@GatorZoneScott So it continues we never get to play other 6 West teams bc of arbitrary pairing with LSU. They didnt listen to fans. BS— Scott B (@sbarruf) April 27, 2014