After another year of spring meetings in Destin, Fla., they couldn’t get it together. The SEC defied its commissioner, created competitive imbalance and cheated fans in the process, but they did Tennessee Football a huge favor at the same time.
Despite Greg Sankey’s public support for nine games, the SEC will eliminate divisions when the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns join in 2024. However, will stay at eight games for the time being, according to ESPN.
This could change in 2025 and beyond, but for now, the plan is one permanent opponent and seven rotating opponents. The two teams with the best record will play for the SEC Championship at the end of the season.
Make no mistake, this is ridiculous. From a competitive standpoint, eight games isn’t enough with no divisions and 16 teams to create competitive fairness. There will be teams in the title game who got there because they had an extremely easy slate.
At the same time, fans are still going to be stuck with three cupcakes every year. The league is requiring teams to still play at least one non-conference Power Five game, but that doesn’t mean fans aren’t being cheated.
If this goes beyond 2024, longstanding league rivalries as old as the conference itself will come to an end, including Tennessee-Alabama and Georgia-Auburn. Everybody who loves this sport will suffe.
However, while all of those things are true, nobody benefits on the field more than Tennessee Football here. There are really only two options for the Vols’ permanent opponent: The Kentucky Wildcats or Vanderbilt Commodores.
Vandy, as an in-state rival, is their most likely permanent foe. Given that fact, the Vols are best positioned to have one of the easier paths year in and year out to the SEC title moving forward.
If this were a three and six format with nine games, UT would likely face Vanderbilt, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Alabama Crimson Tide yearly. That’s not the hardest schedule ever, but it certainly isn’t the easiest.
Alabama could come off the yearly schedule, and the Georgia Bulldogs are off the schedule just as their dynasty is hitting its apex. Meanwhile, Georgia will play South Carolina or the Florida Gators. Alabama faces the Auburn Tigers.
Simply put, of the teams in the running for the conference championship, this format is a huge boost for Tennessee Football just as the Vols are. back on the rise. They may lose some rivalries, but they’ll get more wins.
So what is better from a Vol fans’ perspective? Do they want more exciting games at Neyland Stadium and more Saturdays to look forward to, or do they care about the most success possible? That will determine if they support this current proposal.