Update on SEC football schedule format in 2026 and beyond

While the debate continues around if the SEC will add a ninth conference football game to the schedule, Greg Sankey puts a stop to that speculation
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While fans debate whether or not the SEC should introduce a ninth conference game to its football schedule, league commissioner Greg Sankey says a decision will likely not come this week.

"I don't expect a lot of conversation on football scheduling this week," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said at the start of the conference's spring meetings in Destin.

A year ago, expanding the SEC conference football schedule to a ninth game was one of the hot topics at the spring meetings, although the league stayed put at eight conference games in 2024 and 2025, leaving the matter of 2026 and beyond an open question.

But the SEC has other things on its plate at this year's meetings.

“Given all that’s happening around us, scheduling kind of is out there, and we continue to talk about it,” Sankey said.

That's likely a reference to the bombshell House vs. NCAA settlement that came down in recent days that puts the NCAA, conferences, and schools on the hook for about $2.8 billion in back payments to athletes, and the introduction of the first-ever pay-for-play system to athletes in the future.

The many questions that will come up as to how that will be organized and implemented are expected to dominate conversation in the SEC and other conferences for some time.

But Sankey did offer some news on the SEC football schedule front, at least for this season.

On Thursday, the SEC will announce game times for the first three weeks of this coming year in addition to some other select kickoff times.

All game times for early TV window games, those that take place between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern, should be announced by mid-June.


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James Parks


James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.