Count Florida head coach Dan Mullen among those who would like to see the SEC switch things up with the conference schedule. If it were up to Mullen, the SEC would mix up the cross-division rotation more frequently so teams in opposite divisions could play other members of the conference more often.
The topic of conversation about the SEC schedule came up as Mullen’s Gators are getting ready to play Auburn in a cross-division matchup in two weeks (Florida plays Towson this week). It is the first time Florida has played Auburn since 2011. So, for those keeping score at home, the last time Florida played Auburn, Texas A&M and Missouri were in the Big 12. Mullen made note that Florida has played non-conference schools such as Miami and Florida State more often than they have faced Mullen’s former school, Mississippi State. Florida faces Florida State every season and has played Miami twice since 2013. To go even deeper, Florida has faced Michigan in the regular season as many times as the Gators have faced Mississippi State since 2010 (Florida has also played two bowl games against the Wolverines since 2016).
“I think it’s an injustice for the kids. We should mix those games up and you should play more teams from the West and get the opportunity to play more SEC games,” Mullen said during a press conference this week. “You come play in this league and play in those games, conference games are a lot of fun, playing other SEC teams. I think moving forward scheduling-wise, obviously conference, we don’t control that, but I think that’d be a heck of a deal and I know we’re working to play more Power 5 teams.”
The SEC has 14 members but plays just eight conference games each season. That leaves room for six games against division opponents and two more crossover games. One of the cross-division games is a locked-in protected matchup that never comes off the schedule, and the last remaining game rotates through the opposite division over the years. Florida’s protected cross-over game is against LSU.
One possible way to address the lack of games against schools in the other division would be to expand the SEC conference schedule to nine games, providing one additional game against the other division. Of course, the SEC as a whole has pushed back on the idea of moving from an eight-game schedule to a nine-game schedule. If the SEC is going to remain at eight games, then it might be worth exploring the reception to doing away with the protected cross-division games to allow more opportunities to face more teams from around the conference.
Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.