Should SEC Make 10-Game Schedule Permanent?
Since the Southeastern Conference expanded to 14-teams, the league has held steadfast to the 8-game conference schedule with four other non-conference games filling the remainder of league slates.
Now that the conference has been forced to change to a 10-game conference-only platform for health and safety reasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, should the conference consider making a move permanent?
There would likely be some push back from league coaches who seem fine with the current system, but others such as Alabama's Nick Saban have long held that the league should move to a nine-game setup. Ironically, Saban's biggest rival, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is also an advocate for moving to nine games.
"I've changed my tune. I'm all for the SEC having nine conference games to equal out the league as far as schedule," Malzahn told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd at SEC Media Days in 2018. "I think Nick's been the only one for it."
Would Saban and Malzahn be for expansion to ten as opposed to nine games now that the league has made this adjustment?
That's a question that would have to be asked of each coach, but one could easily surmise that both coaches would at least consider the option in the future.
A 10-game conference schedule with two non-conference games, one being a mandatory meeting with a Power Five opponent, and one that could be used for Division-II contest would be an improvement in the opinion of this writer.
Some might argue that having Alabama playing the likes of UT-Martin is a joke. Well, it is as far as the matchup goes, but it's no laughing matter for the Martin's of the college football-playing world.
The income D-II teams receive for agreeing to Athens, Gainsville, and throughout the SEC can mean the difference between those smaller schools fielding a tennis team and them not having the funds to do so.
Eliminating those games would hurt those programs. Some might even say that limiting the big boys from scheduling them more than once per season will hurt too. However, is it fair for fans to pay premium dollars the see the SEC smash teams three times a year?
Perhaps a 10-game schedule is too much too soon, but the conference should at least take a serious look at nine now before returning to whatever normal might exist in the future.
Fans and other conferences are likely watching, and the SEC will hear about it starting in 2021 if we are back to normal-or close- then.