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Why Georgia football would be in favor of a 9-game conference schedule
Whether it ends up getting voted on this week, two future scheduling models have been touted as for what the future of SEC conference play would look like.
One of those models would be an eight-game format, with one protected rivalry and seven rotating foes. The league currently plays eight conference games, with one cross-divisional game being protected and played on an annual basis. Georgia draws Auburn out of the SEC West as it stands. But in this system going forward, Florida would almost certainly be the protected rival for Georgia.
The other proposed scheduling format would be a nine-game format with three annual opponents, while the other six foes would rotate. A potential Georgia combination would be Florida, Auburn and South Carolina.
When appearing on the Paul Finebaum show on Wednesday, Georgia coach Kirby Smart made it clear which one he supports.
He wants more SEC games.
“It’s hard because I really want to add the game, but I want to do it more for the fans,” Smart said. “I really feel like fans and the consumers that come to our games, they want the best games. They want the intraconference. They want to see SEC play SEC teams. So I want to give them what they want.”
Going to a nine-game format wouldn’t just be a win for the fans. It would solve many other issues that currently exist with Georgia’s schedule.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin outlined one of those when speaking with reporters on Wednesday. As it currently stands, Georgia will be the home team for this year’s Georgia-Florida game. That gives the Bulldogs only three SEC home games, as the two teams will play in Jacksonville
With a larger conference schedule, Georgia and Florida would no longer be at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the SEC in terms of home games. The nine-game format would mean that Georgia and Florida get at least four guaranteed home games each year, which would be on par with the rest of the league.
And it would help keep the game in Jacksonville.
“That’s a – there’s a lot of tradition there. Gators feel pretty strongly about that,” Stricklin told reporters. “It’s been there for decades. I think it’s served both schools really well. I’d like to see it continue.”
That set-up likely also helps future members Texas and Oklahoma, who similarly play an annual rivalry game at a neutral site. Those schools will not join the league until 2025, which is when the league schedule is set to start anew.
Related: Georgia football schedules in question, 2023 Oklahoma game discussed
With either schedule model, it’s clear the league wants to get out and see its other members more frequently.
Consider that this coming season will be Texas A&M’s 10th in the league. Georgia has played them just once and won’t see Kyle Field in College Station, Texas until the 2024 season.
“I know our fanbase at Georgia, they want to see us play Texas A&M,” Smart said. “We haven’t gone to Texas A&M. It’s a 12-year cycle. They’re going to have the ability to tighten the cycle even more if you play more games.”
The most obvious downside to an extra SEC game is that it would make it more difficult to make a four-team College Football Playoff.
A road game at LSU would be tougher than a home game against Kent State, for example.
“I also want the best opportunity for our conference to get more teams in the playoff,” Smart said. “Well, is the Playoff of the future four? Is the Playoff of the future eight? Is it six, 12? I don’t know that, but you want the most opportunities. As the Playoff number grows, I think there’s more people comfortable with more SEC games.”
Related: Kirby Smart shares public thoughts Nick Saban-Jimbo Fisher beef: ‘That’s Mickey Mouse’