SEC Football Future Scheduling: What Is Out There With 3 Permanent Foes, And What We Would Like To See

The Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings in Destin, Florida, this May and June will be all about perms.

Not the awful 1970s men haircuts, but the three permanent opponents all 16 SEC football teams will get starting with the 2024 schedule when Texas and Oklahoma join the league.

Before the meetings, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey hopes to have a new, nine-game league schedule with the format of six non-annual opponents and three permanent, annual foes nailed down. The three perms for each of the 16 teams may not be decided upon until the meetings or after by votes of league presidents and athletic directors.

Coaches, like Alabama's Nick Saban, can only voice their opinion. The other six teams will be rotated in and out for the 16 over a four-year window.

SEC To Be Deciding On 2024 Schedule Soon

Sankey plans to be meeting with SEC presidents and athletic directors this week in Nashville at the SEC men's basketball tournament, which starts Wednesday.

In recent weeks Sankey has floated around three permanent opponents for each league member based on No. 1 and No. 2 rivalries, geography and balance. But that last one gets funny because even some of the best teams historically are not great every year. So, as former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer said of the league moving to 12 teams and two divisions in 1992, balance changes. Geography doesn't. But history can get stale.

Sometimes historically very good or great teams get average or even bad, like 2019 national champion LSU falling in 2020 and '21 and Auburn and Florida now. And Tennessee for several years until the last two years. Sometimes, historically bad teams like Kentucky and Vanderbilt get good briefly. So, eventually, things even out anyway, Kramer said. So quit whining.

SEC Possible Trio Of Permanent Opponents For All 16 Teams

According to sources around the SEC, the following is one of the models Sankey has been circulating around the league, versions of which have been picked up by various websites and publications:

ALABAMA - Auburn, Tennessee, LSU.

ARKANSAS - Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas.

AUBURN - Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt.

FLORIDA - Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma.

GEORGIA - Auburn, Florida, Kentucky.

KENTUCKY - Mississippi State, South Carolina, Georgia.

LSU - Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Alabama.

MISSOURI - Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma.

MISSISSIPPI STATE - Ole Miss, Kentucky, Texas A&M.

OLE MISS - Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas.

OKLAHOMA - Texas, Missouri, Florida.

SOUTH CAROLINA - Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky.

TENNESSEE - Vanderbilt, Alabama, South Carolina.

TEXAS - Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas.

TEXAS A&M - Texas, LSU, Mississippi State.

VANDERBILT - Tennessee, Auburn, Missouri.

The above, for the most part, makes sense as it keeps some of the best and oldest rivalries intact. LSU-Florida, though, is gone after consistently being one of the best, if not the best, West vs. East annual TV game since the SEC went to divisions in 1992. Those two also met annually for decades before divisional play, too. It's a natural game matching two states that do not border one another, though only tiny bits of Mississippi and Alabama separate them. But the world will not end without them playing. They're secondary rivals.

Also gone in the above model is Tennessee-Florida, one of the best East games since 1992. But not a lot in recent years as both programs had had periods of mediocrity.

Also gone in this model is the border battle between Tennessee and Kentucky. That is to keep things balanced for historically mediocre South Carolina. If you put Kentucky on Tennessee's annual schedule and moved South Carolina from Tennessee's to Georgia's, it would make sense geographically. Kentucky and Tennessee and Georgia and South Carolina share borders. But that would leave South Carolina with Florida, Tennessee and Georgia every year. Florida was average the past two years and will likely be again in 2023. But for the most part historically, that is a murderers row for South Carolina, which has never won the SEC.

SEC Haves And Have Nots Dictated Schedule Shift In 1992

Remember, before the SEC did its new schedules for the move to divisions in 1992, Kramer and his staff divided the 12 teams into haves and have nots based on history and continued potential, and did the schedule based on that. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee were the haves. Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and newbies South Carolina and Arkansas were the have nots. Little, if anything, has changed in those designations on a consistent basis.

Texas A&M entered as an historical have in 2012, though it has been bad lately. Missouri entered as an historical have not that year, though it was good early on.

Another problem with the above model is it's just too boring and tired. The SEC is entering an exciting new world of TV, travel and fresh rivalries by adding Texas and Oklahoma, which are clearly haves to Arkansas and South Carolina as have nots. The pairing is also much sexier than the additions of A&M and Mizzou in 2012. Yet, the above model has two of the best teams historically - Alabama and LSU - playing the same old teams. Alabama and LSU should be playing Oklahoma and Texas, respectively.

SEC New Football Schedule For 2024 By OutKick

The SEC will be continuing to cling to the past too much with the above schedule model. With that in mind, here is what OutKick would like to see as the three permanent opponents for all 16 SEC teams, also based somewhat on history and geography. And remember, even though a team doesn't play a team every year, it still will play every team twice in four-year windows:

ALABAMA - Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma.

ARKANSAS - Missouri, Ole Miss, Oklahoma.

AUBURN - Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt.

FLORIDA - Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi State.

GEORGIA - Auburn, Florida, South Carolina.

KENTUCKY - South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri.

LSU - Alabama, Texas, Ole Miss.

MISSISSIPPI STATE - Ole Miss, Florida, Texas A&M.

MISSOURI - Arkansas, Texas A&M, Kentucky.

OKLAHOMA - Texas, Alabama, Arkansas.

OLE MISS - Mississippi State, Arkansas, LSU.

SOUTH CAROLINA - Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky.

TENNESSEE - Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt.

TEXAS - Texas A&M, Oklahoma, LSU.

TEXAS A&M - Texas, Mississippi State, Missouri.

VANDERBILT - Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky.

Sorry, Alabama-Tennessee, that game hasn't done anything for most in decades, other than old school Tennessee and Alabama people. Few today know what the "third Saturday in October" means. In that game's heyday, it was for money because of close geography. Now, both schools make more money than they know what to do with. And remember this, absence from a rivalry will make the heart grow that much more hate.

Removing Tennessee as an annual Alabama opponent allows it to play Oklahoma. What a pairing of classic, brand name powers that will be. It is also fresh as the two have only played six times! And hey, not that it matters, but Saban may like this one better as Tennessee is better than Oklahoma at the moment.

Sorry, LSU-Texas A&M. But LSU-Texas makes more sense. This one is also fresh as the border schools that are each flagship institutions have met just 18 times, but only twice this century.

Now, Texas may soon have the toughest permanent trio with Texas A&M, Oklahoma and LSU, but hey everything's big in Texas, including the degree of difficulty of your schedule. So, welcome to the SEC.

Stay tuned.

Written by
Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests. A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention. Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.