The future of the conference schedule has been a hot topic at SEC meetings in Destin this past week and rightfully so. It now appears that the conference will be moving to a 6-1-1 format that will appease a large portion of fans, but of course not all.
The way the schedule will work for the time being, is as follows:
Each team will play each of the other six teams in their division once annually. For Kentucky, this means that Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and now Missouri will be played every season. – Each team will play one “rivalry” game with the same out-of-division opponent each year. Kentucky’s SEC West rival is Mississippi State, and this game will be played every season, alternating sites.
The other protected matchups are Georgia-Auburn, Florida-LSU, Tennessee-Alabama, South Carolina-Arkansas, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt, and Texas A&M-Missouri.
Each team will play one out-of-division opponent each year on a rotating basis. Kentucky’s Western division foe this season will be Arkansas, played in Fayetteville. – Each team will continue to schedule four out of conference games per season, one of which may be a FCS-level opponent (per NCAA rules).
Kentucky’s four out of conference games this upcoming season are @Louisville, Western Kentucky, Kent State, and Samford (FCS). Past 2012 though, nothing is set in stone. There is plenty of debate about whether the SEC should keep an eight game schedule or move to nine games and whether the conference needs to keep the protected rivalries. Additionally, I think there’s some unspoken concern about what will happen if the SEC eventually moves to 16 teams as well, but that might actually be easier.