BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference has decided to stick with its current football scheduling format of eight league games and a permanent non-division rival.
The conference's presidents and chancellors approved the so-called 6-1-1 format Sunday at a special meeting in Atlanta. SEC teams will continue to play each of their six division rivals, plus one permanent crossover rivalry game and another non-divisional opponent that will rotate.
The one change to format will affect nonconference scheduling. Starting in 2016, all SEC teams will be required to play at least one game against a team from one of the other Big 5 conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12. But even that rule shouldn't change much. SEC schools routinely play at least one team from those conferences per season.
This season Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt do not play nonconference games against another Big 5 school. Only Arkansas, Texas A&M and Kentucky did not play a Big 5 nonconference game last year. The Wildcats' main in-state rival, Louisville, joins the ACC this season.
The SEC had been considering adding a ninth conference game and doing away with permanent inter-division opponents such as Alabama-Tennessee and LSU-Florida.
"Critical to maintaining this format is the nonconference opponent factor which gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences, and acknowledges that many of our institutions already play these opponents," Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement.