Georgia-Auburn game is safe, SEC goes with 6-1-1 schedule format

DESTIN, Fla. — The SEC completed its annual spring meetings Friday with votes aimed at preserving rivalries in regular-season football and maintaining the conference’s clout in the postseason.

The league, soon to consist of 14 schools, overwhelmingly approved a football scheduling format that will keep the 120-year-old Georgia-Auburn game intact annually.

But after siding with history on that vote, the presidents of the SEC schools bucked tradition by unanimously endorsing a national four-team football playoff.

The SEC’s support of the proposed playoff came with a caveat that will be contentious in negotiations with other conferences. The SEC wants the nation’s top four teams in the playoff field, a position at odds with other leagues — the Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC and Big East — that want to give preferential treatment to conference champions.

After producing the past six national champs and placing two teams in last season’s BCS title game, the SEC is adamant that as many of its teams as possible should be able to qualify for the playoff.

On the matter of regular-season football scheduling for 2013 and beyond, the SEC put aside the objections of several schools and adopted a 6-1-1 format: six games against division opponents, one game against a permanent cross-division opponent (Auburn in Georgia’s case) and one game against a rotating cross-division opponent.

“That was our priority all along, to maintain that series with Auburn,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said. “… Every school has their own agenda, but at the end of the day, it’s what was best for the SEC.”

The other annual cross-division games will be Alabama-Tennessee, Florida-LSU, Arkansas-Missouri, South Carolina-Texas A&M, Kentucky-Mississippi State and Ole Miss-Vanderbilt.

In an acknowledgement of the fluid landscape of college athletics, the 6-1-1 proposal passed without a stipulation regarding how long it would be in force. SEC commissioner Mike Slive said he didn’t think the issue would be revisited for at least three or four years.

The strongest objection to the format came from LSU, which said permanent cross-division opponents should be scrapped in the interest of more equitable scheduling.

“That was my argument, and obviously it didn’t stick,” LSU chancellor Michael Martin said. “But, hey, you lose some and you win some.”

While the SEC was able to settle the issue of its football schedule, the league’s position on the national playoff merely established its stance for negotiations with other leagues. The playoff, if enacted, would begin with the 2014 season.

Meetings of the BCS commissioners are scheduled for June 13 and June 20, and a meeting of the BCS presidential oversight committee is set for June 26. By then, the goal is to have a consensus among conferences on a deal.

The SEC position calls for the semifinal games to be incorporated into the bowl system and for the championship game to be bid out to cities, like the Super Bowl.

The thorniest issue in negotiations figures to be the SEC’s view that the four best teams should reach the playoffs, regardless of whether those teams are conference championships. Other leagues have suggested various ways of favoring conference champions. The Big Ten’s position, for example, is that if four conference champions are ranked among the nation’s top six teams, those four champs should comprise the playoff field.

“If we’re going to go to a four-team playoff, which I anticipate we are, I think it needs to be — and I think the fans would expect us to provide — the four best teams in the country: one, two, three, four,” Slive said.

Slive added that he is open to different ways for determining the top four teams, “whether it’s a committee or data points,” but is opposed to “gerrymandering who is playing for the national championship” by making conference championships a criteria.

“I think people will come around some in some of the other conferences,” UGA president Michael Adams said.

But it’s not clear what will happen to the proposed playoff if they don’t.

Adams said the SEC discussed several “fallback” positions, but he wouldn’t say what they are.

“I think you have to be careful now about not painting yourself in a corner,” Adams said. “This is a new world, and I think you have to rearrange your mental furniture a little bit and say, ‘Are we really prepared for this next iteration?’

“Everybody every now and then has to give a little to make something work. You’ve got to quit thinking now about the way the world has been. You have to start thinking about the fact this is a new day with a new set of rules.”

– Tim Tucker, AJC

148 comments Add your comment


June 1st, 2012
12:58 pm

Will they ever go to 9 conferance games?


June 1st, 2012
12:59 pm

Yea LSU will have to play UF every year and Tenn vs Ala as well as the dogs and auburn

Pdx dawg

June 1st, 2012
1:02 pm

9 conf games is the way to go.


June 1st, 2012
1:03 pm

dawglife….my guess is no. Not on the agenda. Not many, if any schools think that is a good idea.


June 1st, 2012
1:07 pm

I know College football is changing and is more about money now, but if they had stopped the AU vs UGA rivalry it would be a sad day in history of football in the South. It is from these 2 schools in the beginning that started it all…


June 1st, 2012
1:08 pm

That means that outside of you cross division rival, you only get to see the other teams 2 times every 12 years. I personally as a fan think that sucks.


June 1st, 2012
1:10 pm

I think 9 games is the way to go no more D2 schools.

Patrick Romano WAR DAMN EAGLE

June 1st, 2012
1:13 pm

Glad they haven’t changed any of this rivalry. AU has to get this rivalry ship righted UGA has owned us the last several years (with the exception of the dream season, NC 2010).

It’s still great to be an AUBURN Tiger!



June 1st, 2012
1:16 pm

Auburn can be a formidable opponent but that game needs to stay on the schedule. It would be a shame to see such a long standing, traditional rivalry become a memory.


June 1st, 2012
1:17 pm

So every other conference is going to go to a 9 game schedule and the SEC is going to stick at 8? Shocking.


June 1st, 2012
1:20 pm

Glad the south’s oldest rivalry remains intact

Big Wally

June 1st, 2012
1:21 pm

Do away with Divisions. Go to 9 conf. games. Take the two teams with best records at end of regular season to play for Conf. Champ. Every team will have 5 permanent opponents. The other 4 conf. games rotate every 2 years. That way everybody will place every conf. team at least twice every 4 years. Your also guaranteed of getting the two best teams in the conf. champ. each year, instead of like last year, when Ga. was mayb the 4th best team in the Conf. playing for the SEC champ. If you do away with Divisions, you never have to worry about one Division being weaker than the other.

UGA 11

June 1st, 2012
1:23 pm

9 conference games is not a good idea. We already play in the SEC, we want an even tougher schedule? We should stay at 8 unless the other conferences are also going to 9. No reason to make it tougher on ourselves in the mean time.

There should be a rule against playing FCS (D2) opponents though.


June 1st, 2012
1:27 pm

Completely agree Wally. The divisions are not really historical (early 1990’s). What is the point going forward……..UGA could play FL, AUB, TEN, SC and VANDY, then rotate the others bi-annually.


June 1st, 2012
1:29 pm

GTBob probably wants a 9 game SEC schedule so GT wouldn’t have to play UGA. Nine plus GT is not a good deal for UGA.

Devil's Advocate

June 1st, 2012
1:35 pm

This is a HUGE step in preserving what makes college football great. I’m all for a move to playoffs determining a champion but all of this realignment and threatening long standing rivalries was a bitter pill to swallow.

ESPN doesn’t know how to define a rivalry. They have many believing it’s whatever teams are most popular at the moment or highly competitive spurts of games in a series. Wrong! A real rivalry is one where two teams don’t like each other, records be damned. Real rivalries don’t need marketing to make them legit.

UGA-Auburn and Bama-UT fit that bill. I was sad back in the day when Oklahoma and Nebraska stopped playing annually and I’m shocked about Texas-TA&M ending. Good move by the SEC to put a stop to trashing traditional rivalries.


June 1st, 2012
1:37 pm

I still don’t understand why this idea didn’t get more legs… It seems so simple… Move Alabama and Auburn to the East and move Vandy and Mizzou to the West. All the rivalries continue, plus it takes less than 12 years to play everyone twice. What were the AD’s thinking?!?!

Burbank Dawg

June 1st, 2012
1:43 pm

I agree with Big Wally.

Do away with divisions, and let the top two teams in the conference play for the SEC title.


June 1st, 2012
1:45 pm

@UGA 11

I get the hate against playing FCS teams but you won’t hear them complaining about it. The games against FBS teams can make or break a FCS athletic budget for the year. They LOVE being scheduled for those games so I expect that you’ll see a little resistance on that end.


June 1st, 2012
1:45 pm

UGA 11…. FCS & D2 are two different things


June 1st, 2012
1:47 pm

What’s wrong GT Bob? You upset that nobody talks about or cares about the weak arse ACC? Your school is irrelevant.


June 1st, 2012
1:50 pm

Do away with Divisions. Go to 9 conf. games. Take the two teams with best records at end of regular season to play for Conf. Champ.

The NCAA requires that you have divisions if you have a conference championship game. They can’t get rid of them.


June 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

I, for one, love seeing the smaller colleges get to play the big boys. How soon we forget what App. State did in the Big House a few years ago…

Devil's Advocate

June 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

I usually give Techies credit for at least being smart and logical about things but when it comes to sports all of their engineering qualities go down the toilet.

The SEC went to 12 and held a conference championship game first. How long did it take for the ACC to catch up with that idea? The SEC could still increase the number of conference games one day, just not today.


June 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

GTBob probably wants a 9 game SEC schedule so GT wouldn’t have to play UGA. Nine plus GT is not a good deal for UGA.

GT will be playing a 9 game schedule plus UGA. Pac 12 and Big 10 teams will be playing 9 game schedules plus each other in an additional game. Why is the SEC so weak that they can’t do it too?

Ole Big Dawg

June 1st, 2012
1:54 pm

Deep Souths Oldest Rivalry

Auburn Grad

June 1st, 2012
1:56 pm

Traditions haven’t gone completely out the window, yet.

what of it?

June 1st, 2012
1:58 pm

Hallelujah, at least some things remain sacred, for now.

It’s the best college football game year in and year out.

Dawg Fan

June 1st, 2012
2:00 pm

I would have been in favor of a 6-2 format. Get to see more of the S.EC. West sooner.

Also while we are at it how about just dropping the Bugs from our schedule so we do not have to hear their constant whining. We own them anyway and I would rather play schools like Clemson, Louisville, West Virginia, etc. instead.

Just my 2 cents


June 1st, 2012
2:01 pm

What’s wrong GT Bob? You upset that nobody talks about or cares about the weak arse ACC? Your school is irrelevant.

Nope, as far as football goes I hate the ACC as much as you do.

Habersham Dawg

June 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

If college football continues to evolve toward a true playoff format, then the conference championship will become more important, so a 9 game conference schedule will become more likely.


June 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

Problem with a 9 game schedule is that it’s unbalanced. Some teams get 5 home games while others get 4.


June 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

Also while we are at it how about just dropping the Bugs from our schedule so we do not have to hear their constant whining.

I have been advocating this for over 10 years and nobody has listened. Hopefully expansion will kill it.

Big Wally

June 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

Can you provide a link Bob about the Divisions. From what I saw the only requirement was that a conference had to have twelve teams in order to have a Conference Champ. Game. The part about not having Divisions is something the Big 12 talked about years ago, because the Big 12 North usually had an average team play a good team from the south and their ratings were bad most of the time.


June 1st, 2012
2:10 pm

I bet if LSU’s annual cross division rival was Kentucky or Vandy (not Florida) they would not be crying about it.

I’m just glad UGA, Aubur,. Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama were not wimping out.

james in athens

June 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

SEC Teams will always play 8 games period. They don’t want to
lose a home game and some teams get at least 8 home games per year.
Others like GA will never have more than 7 due to Florida game in Jax unless
that changes down the road. Its all about the $$ and home games vs. weak
sisters from smaller FCS conferences bring in the cash for each school…
College Football is a business and the fans are about 5th on the list at this
point and heading further down it….


June 1st, 2012
2:18 pm



June 1st, 2012
2:19 pm

Can you provide a link Bob about the Divisions.

Here is the rule:

“ (c) Twelve-Member Conference Championship Game. [FBS/FCS] A conference championship game between division champions of a member conference of 12 or more institutions that is divided into two divisions (of six or more institutions each), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division;”


June 1st, 2012
2:27 pm

South Carolina?
Did we get last pick or something?

Big Wally

June 1st, 2012
2:30 pm

Was just reading a B1G blog and they were saying the same thing about how they wanted to get rid of Divisions because it messed up some of their rivalry games. SEC would never do it anyway, but I think it would be better.


June 1st, 2012
2:35 pm

The NCAA will eventually have to modify the conference championship rule. Sixteen team conferences are coming and you can’t really do a roundrobin of seven teams in your division and then play enough games in the other division to make the conference have unity. If they stick with the roundrobin requirement, they’ll have to allow more than two divisions in a conference.


June 1st, 2012
2:35 pm

If Georgia is paired with Auburn, Tennessee with Alabama, then what are the rest of the more permanent cross division matchups? Florida/LSU? Which SEC west team gets the “gift” of being paired with Kentucky?


June 1st, 2012
2:36 pm

Bob, I’m not sure I read that as a rule. It seems more like a definition to me. In any case, who says the rule can’t be changed? If the NCAA changed the rule and allowed conferences with less than 12 teams to have a championship, some of this realignment noise might go away. Just a thought

go uga go!

June 1st, 2012
2:38 pm

Definitely should play Auburn ever year.

Let’s hope Uga (The bulldog) gets a chance to bite another player this year before GA beats Auburn by several touchdowns.


June 1st, 2012
2:39 pm

Great, now McGarrity (King Wimp) can get busy scheduling Akron or Bowling Green.

The dude is going to run out of options….we have BUFFALO, FLORIDA ATLANTIC, GA SOUTHERN, CHARLESTON SOUTHERN, SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on our future schedules….I mean how low can the guy go???

UGA has now scheduled “AND CANCELLED” games Oregon State, Cinncinatti, Ohio State, Louisville, and Oregon in the last 48 months.




June 1st, 2012
2:40 pm

As the SEC is the most dominate conference right now, it makes no sense to go to 9 conference games. By adding an extra game, you are guaranteeing 7 losses for the conference teams (as there are 14 teams in the conference now). Doubt the conference teams would lose seven if the 9th conference game was against out-of-conference opponents.


June 1st, 2012
2:43 pm

I think GTBob is right about the current rule, but I think the NCAA should change the rule. Conferences are going to get bigger, the economics of the TV deals make that inevitable whether we like it as fans or not. Without divisions, conferences would be able to protect more rivalries. You also avoid situations like the PAC-12 last year where a 6-6 team was in the title game.


June 1st, 2012
2:45 pm

Good news even though the leg-humpers have had our number lately. Time to turn it around. War Eagle!!


June 1st, 2012
2:47 pm

I agree that the SEC is a strong conference but I hate this notion that we see from our teams of running from competitive games. Either you’re the best team or you aren’t. If you’re the best, then be willing to play the best. 9 conference games should be the way and continuing inter-conference games with good teams should be too. I love GA, but damn was I annoyed when they decided not to play Oregon just because they were afraid of losing. Keeping a 6-1-1 system is the same thing. To be the best, you have to play the best. Frankly, I think it lends more credence to our conference being tough.


June 1st, 2012
2:49 pm

Yay, we get to keep playing the cheaters everyyear. The only tradition with a better history that Georgia Auburn is the history of Auburn’s scandals. War eagle or Go Tigers, whatever just keep paying your players setting up fake independent studies and be proud of your tradition.