Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The long wait to see exactly how the SEC has corralled its new 14-team monster of a league into its 2012 football schedule -- and on short notice, no less -- should be almost over.
According to a report Friday from Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun, the finished 2012 SEC schedule "is expected to be released Monday." The SEC's official Twitter feed confirmed Thursday that the schedule is in its "final stages" but would not be made public until after Christmas.
But to believe the sources who have spoken to Dooley, the process has already gone past those "final stages" to "completed." Among the impacts of the last-minute addition of Missouri to the SEC East, Dooley reports, is that Florida won't receive the returned home game from their cross-divisional rotation trip to Auburn this past season--nor will they get their new, expected rotated-in matchup against Ole Miss. Instead, the Gators will face only two West opponents (Texas A&M and annual cross-division rival LSU) while adding Missouri to their East slate.
Assuming that information is correct, it will put to bed once and for all the notion -- advanced in November by no less than South Carolina president Harris Pastides -- that the SEC is moving to a nine-game conference schedule for 2012. The SEC moved quickly to quash that suggestion at the time, and Mike Slive told the Birmingham News Thursday that he "[doesn't] sense any interest" in moving beyond the current eight-game arrangement.
But neither that statement nor the eight-game 2012 slate rules out a nine-game schedule in the league's future. Slive also confirmed that the 2012 schedule is intended as a one-year stopgap before the 2013 slate establishes the SEC's future divisional rotations, and pointedly added "Who knows what the future holds?" when asked about the possibility of nine games.
So some of the nagging questions about the new look SEC will (very likely) be answered on Monday. Some, though, are going to linger on for a good deal longer than that.