Updated: Mar 3
You may want to read part one for a little more context on the SEC Scheduling model options here:
Since the announcement of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC in 2024 became official, it seems everyone that covers college football has weighed in with their 36 model proposals for who each team should have for their three annual rivals.
I provided my first thought model here:
I provided background that may interest you there, but the rivals I initially chose were.
Since that initial writing on 2/10/23, I have explored other options and have been learning what others have proposed.
I evaluated five proposals from these sources with the links to their articles/ videos. I will summarize the consensus of the five below.
Cover 3 Podcast- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIMx7a8zARM
The Athletic- Seth Emerson- https://theathletic.com/4138977/2023/02/09/sec-football-schedule-oklahoma-texas/
SI.com- Ross Dellinger- https://www.si.com/college/2023/02/10/sec-football-future-schedule-format-texas-oklahoma
Athlon Sports- Steve Lassan- https://athlonsports.com/college-football/sec-football-projecting-every-teams-opponents-nine-game-schedule
Each of the projections are also shown below. For this consensus table I formatted the cells thusly:
- Blue- appeared on all five lists
- Green- appeared on four lists
- Orange- appeared on three lists
- Yellow- appeared on two lists
- White- appeared on one list
In a few cases I had to make adjustments for when more than one team appeared on three lists.
- Oklahoma and LSU were on the Texas A&M list three times each. However, the Aggies were the only team to be on the Sooners list multiple times after Texas and Mizzou were on unanimously. Therefore, the OU- Texas A&M matchup was slotted for the third for each team.
- This meant the Texas A&M-LSU matchup was not an option for LSU and Arkansas was the choice. Keeping "The Boot" game seemed like a reasonable choice as well.
- Ole Miss and Mizzou were both on Vandy's list three times. Similarly, Vandy was the only team to appear multiple times on the Ole Miss list after Mississippi St. and LSU. Therefore Ole Miss- Vandy was slotted for the third game for each school.
- This meant the Vandy-Mizzou matchup was not an option and South Carolina- Mizzou was the choice.
There is one matchup on this consensus view that I do not think will be paired as yearly rivals. I do not think Auburn will be asked to play Alabama, Georgia, AND Florida. This was also the discussion the Cover 3 podcast folks had as they discussed these pairings. Of all of the third pairings I believe Miss St.- Kentucky seems the most forced. I think the right answer for these four is:
Auburn- Miss St.
These pairing would help balance. This makes the overall matchups.
Folks, I have studied this from a lot of angles. I have considered probably 20-30 other options. Interestingly, THIS is the matchups the Cover 3 folks came up with as well. I am NOT copying them. If you saw my spreadsheets, you would know that.
Before I break this down for every team, tell me what you think. What changes would you make?
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I know not every school is going to be happy with their annual rival pairings. This is what I think each school will think of their groups. Tell me what you think I got wrong here.
Alabama- Some may view this as too difficult of a schedule for Alabama. Some may argue that LSU is not really a long-term rival. Here is the reality. Bama WAS going to get Auburn and is extremely likely to get Tennessee. TV stakeholders are going to want the Alabama-LSU game every year. Bama can handle this schedule at least for the next six years.
Alabama rating- 8+ (Note report today 3/3/23- Nick Saban is already whining. This score should be 5-6)
Arkansas- Arkansas is going to demand Texas. Your view of the Texas-Arkansas is directly related to your age. I KNOW this. My dad was a Silver Spur and graduated in the late 50s and he considered the Razorbacks on par with the Sooners and Aggies, some days even more. For me, a UT graduate of the late-80s, I viewed Arkansas as the third rival behind those other two but definitely a rival. My daughter graduated from UT in the past three years. She doesn't really see Arkansas as a rival. At least she didn't until the Longhorns and Razorbacks played in 2021. Trust me this rivalry is coming back in 2024.
Arkansas will take Mizzou due to regionality. Then there is a decision point with Arkansas- LSU (the boot), A&M (neutral site game in Arlington), and even Oklahoma (the closest drive). I say they will prefer the boot and LSU. Due to the matchup grid this is the best answer.
Arkansas rating- 8
Auburn- With the adjustment they escape the nightmare schedule. Auburn WANTS Alabama and Georgia. Their fan base will demand it. Having one of those games at home every year defines fall in Auburn, Alabama. Having Miss St. as the third matchup insures a driving distance rival and fellow member of the current SEC West. Not sure what would actually be better.
Auburn rating- 8+
Florida- Keeps the key rivalry with Georgia. Does not get any of the teams they would probably want as a second team- Tennessee, LSU, Alabama. or Auburn. They would have been happy with Auburn, but the Tigers schedule balance reduces that possibility. Apparently, LSU and Florida are ready to move on. The Gators would probably be the fourth choice for most of those teams. Florida gets South Carolina (a regional opponent) and Kentucky (probably the last matchup set).
Florida rating- 5 ish (maybe lower?)
Georgia- Georgia gets Florida and Auburn which is excellent for them. They then add the regional South Carolina. Tennessee really would have been the only other viable option. Georgia is very happy with this.
Georgia rating- 9+
Kentucky- The Wildcats draw the two regional opponents- Tennessee and Vanderbilt. They draw Florida last but are probably happy with that.
Kentucky rating- 8
LSU- The Tigers have arguably SEVEN SEC rivalries. This is the one team that there is a lot of division about who they should get. Many think that LSU will be matched with A&M as a top priority. My son went to LSU, so I kind of understand the vibe at LSU. I THINK they would prioritize Ole Miss and Bama over A&M. I think the TV partners will direct that too as I said earlier.
Some reporters have said neither LSU nor Florida really want to keep that rivalry. Not 100% sure if that is true or if both just value others more.
I give LSU both Ole Miss and Alabama who they definitely would want. I THINK for balance because Arkansas will scream for it that the third matchup will be the Golden Boot matchup of LSU- Arkansas. There are many possibilities for LSU.
LSU Rating- 7-8
Miss St.- The Bulldogs were going to get the Egg Bowl with Ole Miss. Even Jimbo Fisher has been saying that A&M-Miss St. is likely. Miss St. gets Auburn as the last two matchups were set. I think this makes sense. They have played 97 times while not being a huge rivalry. Not getting Bama nor LSU sucks for the Bulldogs, but it could be far worse.
Miss St. Rating- 6
Mizzou- Mizzou has more of a historic rivalry (96 games) with OU than they do with anyone in the Big 12. Arkansas has been a cross division rival and is a natural fit too. Their top 2 are their best options. The last matchup is probably to default to the battle of Columbia with South Carolina. The Tigers and Gamecocks really don't see this as a big rivalry, but it is what it is. Make some rivals Tigers.
Oklahoma- The Sooners enter the SEC with two rivals. Obviously, they will get the Red River Shootout. That is a LOCK. They get the regional rival in Mizzou. Then by process of elimination Oklahoma ends up with the Aggies. Why not?
Oklahoma Rating- 8
Ole Miss- Ole Miss would demand the Miss St. Bulldogs and LSU Tigers. Give them that and they won't rebel.
Ole Miss adds the regional cupcake Vanderbilt. It is hard to imagine Ole Miss fans being happier to be honest.
Ole Miss Rating- 9
South Carolina- The Gamecocks get the two teams they really want in Florida and Georgia. That is a WIN for South Carolina. They then get assigned to keep the "Columbia" rivalry alive. Not sure they even care about that.
South Carolina Rating- 8
Tennessee- Tennessee gets Bama. That was a lock. Then Tennessee gets in state Vanderbilt. That was going to happen politically. From a process of elimination and what makes most sense regionally the Volunteers get Kentucky. They miss out on Florida and Georgia.
Tennessee Rating- 6-7?
Texas- Every column and every pundit has given Texas the same three schools- Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Arkansas. It seems to be a LOCK for all three and this is clearly the best answer for the Longhorns AND for their rivals. I don't see how it could be any better.
The only reason the Longhorns don't get these three is to send a message that they won't always get what they want.
Texas Rating- 10
Texas A&M- The Aggies will NOT be as happy as the Longhorns. They want and will get Texas. They want and won't get LSU. The Tigers have too many other matchups that would be a higher priority. They want and won't get Arkansas. The Razorbacks will get Texas, a regional Mizzou and push for the boot with LSU over the Aggies. Even Jimbo has said fans should be thinking about Mississippi State. The Ags are also likely to get Oklahoma. The Ags and Sooners were never the rivals like Texas and Oklahoma. The reality is the Sooners need a third and the Aggies make the most regional sense. I expect the Ags will be one of the loudest and most unhappy.
Texas A&M Rating- 4 ish
Vanderbilt- Vandy gets their in-state partner team- Tennessee. That's a win financially. They also get Kentucky- also a win. They probably get Ole Miss which is also good for Vanderbilt. I think the Commodores will be very happy.
Vanderbilt Rating- 9
Overall, I think most are satisfied.
Sports Illustrated Original
Sports Illustrated Revised (Pink cells are updated)