Per the SEC Web site, here is your conference schedule for Kentucky Football in 2012-2013:
September 22 - at Florida Gators
September 29- South Carolina Gamecocks
October 6- Mississippi St. Bulldogs
October 13- at Arkansas Razorbacks
October 20- Georgia Bulldogs
October 27- at Missouri Tigers
November 3- Vanderbilt Commodores
November 24- at Tennessee Volunteers
With the SEC moving to 14 teams in 2012-2013, some tweaks in football scheduling had to take place. Though there have been rumors floating around for a couple of weeks, the SEC made it official this morning by revealing next year's schedule. Since the early 2000s, the SEC football schedule has followed a pattern that is best described as 5-1-2. Each team played a game against each of five foes within their division, one game against a permanent "rival" from the other division, and two rotating games against other inter-division foes. The six permanent games rotated home-and-home each year. As for the two games that weren't fixtures, each team rotated onto your schedule for two years for a home-and-home, then fell off.
With seven teams now in each division, the SEC was presented with several choices. 1) Just adding in an extra division game for a total of 9; 2) Adding the extra division game and getting rid of the "rivalry game", for a total of 8; 3) Adding the extra division game, preserving the rivalries, and getting rid of one inter-division rotating game.
In the end, the SEC chose to go with option three
Each of these decisions was going to have its drawbacks. Having 9 conference games in the SEC makes for a brutal schedule and would likely lead to teams eliminating good out of conference games. For example, if UK is forced to play 9 SEC games, it will undoubtedly look to end its series with Louisville. Also, a 9 game schedule is a logistical nightmare about would lead to teams playing different numbers of home games.
Eliminating the cross-division, permanent, "rivalry" games also has its drawbacks. Here at UK, this wouldn't be such a big deal. We and our constant, the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, don't have any particular shared history or animosity. We were likely thrown together at the end when this plan was hatched. On the other hand, folks in Tuscaloosa and Knoxville probably don't want to the the Tennessee Volunteers and Alabama Crimson Tide stop playing every year, and the LSU Tigers and Florida Gators have one of the most compelling rivalries in college football.
Finally, getting rid of one non constant out of division game was probably a tough one. Assuming the teams continue to play a home-and-home over a two year period, teams could go 9 years without playing other teams. This could hurt recruiting. If you are a Kentucky Wildcat recruit, won't it take some juice out of playing in the SEC knowing that you'll never play, say either Alabama or LSU.
Still, I think that the SEC went with the best option. The league could move to a nine games schedule sometime in the near future, but for now eight is enough. In the end, the rivalries (which are all happening this year, I double checked) needed to be preserved, and this was the only way to accomplish that.
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