Alabama’s vote for best-of-eight SEC football schedule undermines support for best-of-nine.

The SEC will hold a meeting next week to discuss the football schedule format for 2024 and beyond. The meeting will take place at the annual spring meeting in Miramar Beach, Fla., and will involve coaches and administrators. One of the primary topics on the agenda is whether the league will move to a nine-game format after its expansion. However, reports suggest that this move is losing favor quickly.

Since Texas and Oklahoma joined the league in June 2021, administrators have debated the proposed model. Finalists will be in either a 9-match format with 3 permanent rivals and 6 rotating opponents, or an 8-match format with 1 permanent rival and 7 rotating matches. Alabama manager Nick Saban is one of the leading voices opposing the nine-game model. Saban has long championed adding games to the SEC’s schedule, dating back to 2012 when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league.

Saban believes that adding games helps determine who is the best team in the conference. He wants to create a format where every player in the league has the opportunity to play with every team in the league. The proposed formats for 2024 would give each team the chance to face each other in the conference every other year. However, when Saban learned that the Crimson Tide had three proposed permanent opponents, he expressed his frustration.

Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and South Carolina are against the nine-game format. Auburn, Tennessee, and Ole Miss are undecided on the vote, according to a report by 247Sports’ Brandon Marcello. Vanderbilt has not revealed which proposal it supports. Each method has its drawbacks. The eight-game model eliminates the current permanent opponents, thereby ending annual rivalries such as Auburn vs. Georgia and Tennessee vs. Alabama.

When Texas A&M and Missouri joined the SEC in the spring of 2012, the four-team model was replaced with four-team divisions. The path to one of these spots has changed significantly. As Marcello points out, 12 of the soon-to-be-16 conference teams have non-conference games scheduled for 2024, with nine games sold out through 2026.

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