Already the premier college football conference in the country, the Southeastern Conference found a way to make competition tougher for its 14 members by making subtle changes to its yearly schedule.
Here is how the SEC will go about that from the league’s press release from Sunday:
Each SEC team will continue to play eight conference football games per season, to include six games against division opponents and two games against non-division opponents. One of the non-division opponents will be a permanent annual opponent and the other non-division opponent will rotate each year.
In addition, at least one opponent from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 must be scheduled by each SEC school on an annual basis beginning in 2016, with assistance from the conference office.
The SEC’s decision to continue with the eight-game schedule and the added strength of schedule component should not come as a surprise to many that follow the league. Alabama’s Nick Saban was the only SEC head coach that publicly wanted a move to a nine-game schedule currently used by the Pac-12 and the Big Ten starting in 2016.
With this news from the SEC, it works perfectly into what West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck believes he’ll see in future college football schedules.
“Everyone seems to be moving down a path where a college schedule resembles much more of a NFL schedule than a college schedule,” Luck told the Charleston Daily Mail’s Mike Casazza last year. “When I say NFL schedule, I mean pretty much every game is a tough game. Hardly anybody is going to go undefeated anymore.”
At this moment, West Virginia has a neutral site game with BYU in 2016 in Landover, Maryland as well as home-home series against Virginia Tech in 2021-2022 and Penn State in 2023-2024. While not confirmed at this moment, West Virginia should be playing Tennessee for the first time in a neutral site game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC in the near future.
With help from the guys over at FBSchedules.com, West Virginia could fill openings in upcoming schedules in the next few years with SEC teams to meet the new standards of their league.
West Virginia’s most played SEC opponent, the Kentucky Wildcats, would be a great addition to future schedules in terms of history and geography for the two bordering state institutions. Kentucky currently holds an 11-8-1 record as well but lost the last two meetings against West Virginia in 1979 and 1983.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs currently don’t have a team scheduled from one of the power conferences in any of the program’s slate of games beyond 2016. If scheduled, West Virginia could go for another home-and-home series sweep against Mississippi State as the team did during the 2006-2007 seasons.
West Virginia can stay in the SEC West division and possibly get another home-and-home series with the defending SEC Champions Auburn Tigers. The two teams split their series in 2008-2009 with each team winning on their home field in Auburn and Morgantown.
No matter who ends up on a future schedule for West Virginia and the teams of the SEC, college football is entering an era where more and more schedules won’t have weeks where a team can’t rest during a season.