DESTIN — Modification of the SEC schedule model is on hold after conference leadership exited annual spring meetings unable to reach an agreement.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed new eight-game and nine-game models involving the elimination of divisions remain the focus for 2025 scheduling and beyond but conceded “you never know what could emerge as we dig deeper.”

Sankey indicated the SEC presidents and athletic directors are seeking clarity into issues that arose during the talks with hopes of a resolution by mid-Fall.

The eight-game model, which would involve each team playing one annual opponent and rotating seven others, gained momentum during the week according to sources familiar with the closed-door meetings.

This, even though the eight-game model could mean the end of annual traditional rivalries.

The nine-game model, which involves each team playing three annual opponents and rotating six, remains popular but presents different challenges.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who has traditionally favored more conference games than currently played (eight), mentioned concerns about national “competitive balance” if the SEC were to add another league game.

“If we are going to play nine conference games, we’re going to end up playing five — minimal — Top 15 teams in the country,” Saban said. “How is that going to compare to other conferences?

“You could have a great team and lose two games in our conference, but someone else gets in the playoff because they went undefeated — but they didn’t have the same opportunity as many good games.”

The expansion of the College Football Playoffs from four to 12 teams would ease some of those concerns, but no decision on that appears imminent.

“The CFP is a factor,” Sankey said in reference to SEC leaders wanting to learn the future of the playoff before determining a new SEC scheduling model.

“(But) there’s no certainty that you’re going to have College Football Playoff information 12 months from now.”

The nine-game model would also affect teams that have scheduled aggressively into the future.

Georgia, for example, has scheduled four non-conference games for the 2026 season and would have to drop or move one of those games.

Kirby Smart said four years ago he was for a nine-game SEC schedule, but on Tuesday he was non-committal in Destin.

Smart advocated for an expanded league slate before the Bulldogs announced scheduled home-and-home series with Louisville (2026-27), Florida State (2027-28), Texas 2028-29, Clemson (2029-30) and Ohio State (2030-31).

“We’ve been very aggressive in terms of scheduling opponents out in the future that make great match-ups because we want the University of Georgia to play in big games,” Smart said

“So whether that’s another SEC opponent or another Power 5 opponent, that excites our fan base and attracts our fan base, then so be it,” he said on Tuesday. “But I don’t have a stance in terms of this is what’s best, or that’s what’s best, because it changes as our conference changes.”

The additions of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC in 2025 do indeed provide further complexities.

Sankey said both schools have been kept informed of the scheduling format discussions, but neither are voting members in respect to the model.

Some have suggested television revenue might also be involved in the scheduling model decisions.

Sankey debunked the notion TV executives had any influence on the discussions while also declining to comment on whether ESPN is open to renegotiations on media rights given the additions of Texas and Oklahoma and the possibility of a nine-game schedule.

“We have some more work to do,” Sankey said in his closing remarks from the SEC Spring Meetings on Friday. “As we talked through Wednesday, it became clear that the right step was let’s just wait.

“We’ll have an outcome when the smoke rises from the chimney.”

Sankey will likely re-address the scheduling model challenges when the league arrives July 18-21 in Atlanta for the annual SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame.