If South Carolina football is recruiting a player for the 2019 class, that player will almost assuredly never face Ole Miss in his career. Such is life in the SEC.
But should it be that way?
Should SEC teams go so long without facing or visiting one another? Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks will head to Oxford this weekend, and might not be back for more than a decade (USC will host the Rebels in 2025). He was asked to ponder the question.
“It’s hard when you expand,” Muschamp said. “We expanded to the larger divisions and conferences. It’s just harder and harder. With a lot of people that clamor for certain rivalries to ever come out of our league, which I agree with. I’m an SEC guy. Been in this league a long time. I’m a traditionalist. There’s certain rivalries that need to remain intact. When you expand, that happens. We don’t have Nebraska-Oklahoma anymore.”
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The SEC’s scheduling system is set up to have teams play the same opponents every year for seven of eight games. In the current iteration each schedule is:
▪ Six division games
▪ One permanent cross-division rival
▪ A rotation of the other six cross-division teams.
It came into place when the SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri before the 2014 season.
That means USC will see every non-Texas A&M SEC West team once every six years and travel to each once every 12. Next year, the Gamecocks host Alabama and then play in Tuscaloosa in 2024. The schedule has been set through 2025.
Part of the reason for this is rivalries. The permanent games lock in traditional games such as Auburn-Georgia, LSU-Florida and Tennessee-Alabama. It also creates less-than-traditional meetings such as Mississippi State-Kentucky and Texas A&M-USC, and expansion added in one extra division game (the transition is part of the reason for USC’s nine-year gap with Ole Miss).
Things might clear up more if the league goes to nine conference games, but at the moment, USC fans will have to savor their rare meetings with the likes of Ole Miss, Alabama or LSU.
“That’s part of the expansion,” Muschamp said. “And then you get in the argument of scheduling and do we need to be a nine-(game) schedule? Do we need to rotate or do we need to rotate two? There’s just a lot of, we’ve got some people that don’t agree with what the divisions should be. That’s what commissioner (Greg) Sankey and his staff are in charge of, and I’ll let them handle all that.”
South Carolina’s future opponents:
2020: At LSU
2022: At Arkansas
2023: Mississippi State
2024: at Auburn
2025: Ole Miss