Alabama coach Nick Saban was one of the few vocal proponents of moving to a nine-game conference schedule, the way the Pac-12 and Big 12 have and the Big Ten is going to. Otherwise there was little support from athletic directors for adding another conference game.
The permanent crossover rivalries have also been a point of consternation for some in the conference. LSU has been the most vocal opponent. The Tigers have Florida as their permanent rival. Their West Division rival, Alabama, has Tennessee, which has been down for much of the last decade. Still, the storied rivalry is highly valued by each school.
"The announcement from our conference office regarding future football scheduling assures that the Tennessee-Alabama game, one of college football's most historic rivalries, will continue on an annual basis moving forward," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement. "Chancellor Cheek and I have strongly and consistently advocated that this rivalry be preserved regardless of any other outcomes resulting from conversations about football scheduling."