Since the SEC Meetings ended on Friday, we’ve been hit with a wave emailed questions — and some in our comment boxes, too — regarding the football schedule formats of the SEC and the other four major conferences. Below is a simplified look at how everyone else handles their business:
ACC – 14 schools
* When the league expands to 14 with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, it will adopt a nine-game conference schedule. At minimum, each school will play nine BCS-level foes per year with some schools (Clemson, Georgia Tech and Florida State) facing a guaranteed 10 BCS teams per season via in-state rivalries.
* There will be seven schools in each division.
Atlantic Division: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest
Coastal Division: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech
* Each school will play six division opponents, a “primary partner” or permanent cross-division rival, and two rotating cross-division foes per season. This is the 6-1-2 format that we at MrSEC.com suggested for the SEC last fall.
* Cross-division “primary partners” will be: Boston College-Virginia Tech, Clemson-Georgia Tech, Duke-Wake Forest, Maryland-Virginia, Miami-Florida State, NC State-North Carolina, and Pittsburgh-Syracuse.
Big Ten – 12 schools
* The Big Ten was going to go to a nine-game conference schedule until reaching an agreement with the Pac-12 that will lock-in a Big Ten/Pac-12 crossover game for every Big Ten foe each year. This guarantees that each Big Ten school will face a minimum of nine BCS-level foes per season while a school like Michigan, for example, will play a 10th BCS foe every year via a non-conference rivalry (with Notre Dame, in Michigan’s case).
* There are currently six teams in each division.
Legends Division: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
Leaders Division: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
* Each school plays its five division opponents, one permanent cross-division rival, and two rotating cross-division foe per season. This is a 5-1-2 format. (Corrected from an earlier post that said 6-1-1. Obviously, it’s 5-1-2. Mistype on the writer’s part.)
* Yearly cross-division rivals are: Illinois-Northwestern, Indiana-Michigan State, Iowa-Purdue, Michigan-Ohio State, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Nebraska-and Penn State.
Pac-12 – 12 schools
* Pac-12 schools play a nine-game conference schedule and — as mentioned above — they will also play non-conference games against Big Ten foes each year to bring their guaranteed number of BCS-level foes to 10 per school, per year. Still, a school like Southern Cal, for example, will continue to play annual non-conference opponent Notre Dame, which means that 11 of the Trojans’ 12 games every season will come against BCS-level competition.
* There are six teams in each division.
North Division: California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State
South Division: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Southern Cal, UCLA, Utah
* Each school plays its five division opponents and four rotating cross-divisional foes per season. This is a 5-4 plan. There are no permanent crossover games in the Pac-12… which is a product of the simple nature of the league’s North/South split and its natural rivalries. (There are guarantees that teams will play California schools each year — for recruiting purposes — but it’s too complicated to go into here. If you want a look at the rotation through 2018, check here.)
Big 12 – 10 Schools
* The 10 Big 12 members play a nine-game, full round-robin slate each year.
* There are no divisions.
* That is all.
SEC – 14 Schools
* SEC schools will play an eight-game conference schedule each season, meaning — at minimum — SEC members will face eight BCS-level foes per season. Some schools (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) will play a ninth guaranteed BCS-level foe thanks to annual in-state rivalries.
* There are seven teams in each division.
East Division: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
West Division: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss Texas A&M
* As agreed upon last Friday, each school will play its six divisional rivals annually, plus one permanent cross-division rival and one rotating cross-divisional foe. This is known as the 6-1-1 plan. Even though the rotation of cross-division foes will now be done yearly — guaranteeing that schools will meet at least once every six years — this plan still prevents cross-divisional rotating opponents from visiting one another more than once every 12 seasons.
* Permanent cross-divisional foes are: Alabama-Tennessee, Arkansas-Missouri, Auburn-Georgia, Florida-LSU, Kentucky-Mississippi State, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt, and South Carolina-Texas A&M.
We at MrSEC.com have previously suggested that the SEC and ACC create an agreement — mimicking the Big Ten/Pac-12 — that would pit each of the 14 schools from one league against one of 14 schools from the other. From an SEC standpoint — four league schools are already playing yearly rivalries with ACC schools (Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, South Carolina-Clemson, and Vanderbilt-Wake Forest in recent years) and this would prevent rival leagues, rival fans and media members from the North, East and West from attacking the SEC for being the only major conference not requiring its members to play at least nine BCS-level foes per year.
From an ACC perspective, a partnership with the SEC could bring in extra advertising revenue through an umbrella sponsorship and it might also help solidify the league as a major player moving forward, thus fending off possible school departures or even the total collapse of the conference.
We’ve tried to draw up examples of how such a year-in, year-out agreement might work in this post, but these are only examples of who could play in a given year and where. Anyone judging the plan on who’s playing who and where they’re playing in our sample mock-up is completely missing the point.