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At the 2023 SEC Spring Meetings, the league decided to stay at eight conference games for the 2024 football season and create a one-year schedule model similar to the one the conference had in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the league were to make the next logical step and play nine conference games every season and from the 2025-2026 athletic season and beyond, here are Sports Illustrated’s projections for who those three permanent foes would be for every team in the conference:
Projected Permanent Opponents (according to me)
Alabama – Auburn, LSU, Tennessee
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is one of the proponents of why the league has remained at eight conference games for the 2024 season because he does not want these three top tier opponents, Auburn, LSU, and Tennessee, as mainstays on his schedule. But, he plays them every season anyway in the conference’s current format.
Arkansas – Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas
Arkansas makes sense with any of LSU, Missouri, Texas A&M, or new members Texas and Oklahoma. Missouri is the new rivalry the conference has assigned the Razorbacks when the Tigers entered the league over a decade ago and the Arkansas-Ole Miss games of late have been great. The Razorbacks drawing Texas is an obvious choice with the history between the two programs.
Auburn – Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt
Auburn should get Vanderbilt if they also draw top rivals Alabama and Georgia. With the improvement of the Vanderbilt program under Clark Lea, that may not be a free win every season anymore.
Florida – Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma
The only game Florida does not get from their historical rivalries is Tennessee. Georgia is an obvious choice to remain on the schedule annually while a potential rivalry with Oklahoma could be created with the both programs’ successes historically. The game the SEC could save annually for the Gators has to be LSU, which has been one of the league’s top cross-divisional games recently.
Georgia – Auburn, Florida, Kentucky
With Georgia’s success, they should have no problems with these three opponents. Auburn, Florida, and Kentucky have all had history with Georgia so they make sense playing every other season Athens but I could see South Carolina being another option for the Bulldogs year in and yer out.
Kentucky – Georgia, Mississippi State, South Carolina
Kentucky’s cross-divisional match up with Mississippi State survives into the division-less SEC while also maintaining SEC East rivals Georgia and South Carolina.
LSU – Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
The only game LSU truly wants on their calendar every season is Alabama. The Tigers also keep other SEC rivals Ole Miss and Texas A&M in this potential format. Arkansas, Florida, and Oklahoma also make sense as potential annual opponents for LSU.
Mississippi (Ole Miss) – Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State
The Egg Bowl has to stick around on Thanksgiving while annual games between SEC rivals Arkansas and LSU will stick on the schedule. Vanderbilt also makes sense as an annual opponent for the Rebels.
Mississippi State – Kentucky, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Ole Miss is a must keep on the schedule for the Bulldogs but outside of the Rebels it is uncertain who their other two permanent foes would be. Annual SEC East division foe Kentucky and SEC West foe Texas A&M are the suggested by Sports Illustrated but I could see any number of opponents making it to Starkville every other season.
Missouri – Arkansas, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt
Missouri keeps “The Battle Line Rivalry” with Arkansas, reignites an old Big 12 tilt with Oklahoma, and an SEC East battle with Vanderbilt. This is a favorable three for Missouri to go forward with in the new look SEC.
Oklahoma – Florida, Missouri, Texas
The Sooners keep their annual date with Texas in Dallas the first weekend of October at the Texas State Fair while getting back old Big 12 game against Missouri but a new match up with Florida. Texas A&M makes sense as a permanent foe with the Sooners and Aggies’ histories in the Big 12. Arkansas makes sense for Oklahoma as well with the two schools being separated by just over 192 miles.
South Carolina – Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee
Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee all stay on South Carolina’s schedule in this projected format as they avoid a tough match up with Georgia every season. The Bulldogs could sneak their way onto South Carolina’s schedule permanently though.
Tennessee – Alabama, South Carolina, Vanderbilt
The third Saturday of October rivalry with Alabama should be kept on the schedule annually as well as the annual Thanksgiving rivalry with Vanderbilt and the regional match up with South Carolina.
Texas – Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
The Longhorns perfect three are these three opponents. The “Lone Star Showdown” resumes presumably during Thanksgiving weekend joining Oklahoma across the state in Dallas annually. Texas will want to avenge a 40-21 drubbing at the hands of Arkansas in 2021 when they head to Fayetteville in 2024 and potentially host them again in 2025 under a nine game model.
Texas A&M – LSU, Mississippi State, Texas
Most notably, the “Lone Star Showdown” returns as two programs look to each capture their first SEC football titles, with coaches that still have a lot to prove, including the Aggies’ Jimbo Fisher and the Longhorns’ Steve Sarkisian. The LSU rivalry has seen some great games the last decade since the Aggies joined the league and Mississippi State remains on the schedule as well.
Vanderbilt – Auburn, Tennessee, Missouri
Tennessee is the only obvious mainstay on the Commodores’ schedule. Auburn and Missouri join the Volunteers. The SEC could go a lot of ways with Vanderbilt’s two other permanent opponents.
Annual foes in basketball may not get as much chatter as the football ones but with the league’s improvement in the sport with Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee each making tournament runs over the last three seasons make them interesting. In the new format on the hardwood, each season a team will play two permanent opponents home and away, one rotating opponent home and away, plus the 12 remaining teams in single contests either home or away, for a total of 18 conference games. Here are my projections for each SEC team’s future permanent basketball conference foes:
Alabama – Auburn, LSU
Alabama has a lot of history with Auburn as their main rival with the Tide being ranked number one in the AP Poll for some of last season and Auburn during the 2021-2022 campaign. The Tide also have had great battles with LSU, especially deep into the SEC Tournament in the springs of 2021 and 2022.
Arkansas – Missouri, Oklahoma
Arkansas’ recent series with Oklahoma in Tulsa makes me think the SEC will pit the two against each other in a home and home annually. The Arkansas-Missouri series has been fantastic of late between the Razorbacks’ Eric Musselman and the Tigers’ Cuonzo Martin and now Dennis Gates.
Auburn – Alabama, Georgia
Auburn’s historic rivalries with Alabama and Georgia will remain permanently on the Tigers’ schedule. Alabama and Auburn’s programs have been fantastic of late and so have their games against each other while Auburn has handled Georgia of late as their program is rebuilt under upcoming second year head coach Mike White.
Florida – Georgia, Kentucky
Florida’s rivalry with Kentucky is one of the top match ups in the SEC every season and competitiveness between Todd Golden’s team and John Calipari’s team should continue to improve as the Gators get better under their new head coach. The Florida-Georgia series should always stay on the schedule with the long history between the two programs.
Georgia – Auburn, Florida
Georgia’s natural rivalries with Auburn and Florida make sense for Mike White’s team in the new SEC. Their two permanent rivals do look like they are currently better programs than the Bulldogs but things do look better under the younger coaching staff.
Kentucky – Florida, Tennessee
John Calipari’s team gets four tough match ups a year with Florida and Tennessee coming to Rupp and the Wildcats having to travel to Gainesville and Knoxville, two of the SEC’s toughest places to play.
LSU – Alabama, Texas A&M
LSU will have to improve under Matt McMahon with four difficult games a year against Alabama and Texas A&M, who are both trending up as programs.
Mississippi (Ole Miss) – Mississippi State, Missouri
Keeping cross state rival Mississippi State on the schedule is obvious for Rebels. Missouri was one of Ole Miss’ permanent foes in the current format so we could potentially see many Chris Beard-Dennis Gates battles twice a year in the future.
Mississippi State – Missouri, South Carolina
The Bulldogs keep their Egg Bowl rivalry with Ole Miss on the hardwood. They also get South Carolina, who was a permanent foe for the Bulldogs under the format introduced before the 2015-16 season.
Missouri – Arkansas, Mississippi State
The Tigers hate Arkansas so keeping Eric Musselman and the Razorbacks on the schedule is obvious. Future coaching battles between Dennis Gates and Chris Jans will be phenomenal, too.
Oklahoma – Arkansas, Texas
Oklahoma must keep their annual games with Texas on the schedule annually. They also get to face Arkansas every season, as their campuses are under 200 miles apart.
South Carolina – Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
The Gamecocks’ coach Lamont Paris gets regional rival Vanderbilt and a hard nosed Mississippi State team to build the program back up every season. The Commodores are two games South Carolina can win every season while the match ups with the Bulldogs might be more difficult.
Tennessee – Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Tennessee gets its instate rivalry with Vanderbilt in addition to facing off with Kentucky every season in Rupp and at home in Thompson-Boiling Arena. Both of those rivalries are hostile and will continue to grow in the SEC.
Texas – Oklahoma, Texas A&M
The Longhorns and Aggies must return to the hardwood annually with the two back in the same conference. Oklahoma must stay on the schedule as well as both programs transition into the SEC.
Texas A&M – LSU, Texas
Texas A&M’s decade of playing LSU as conference opponents keep it on the schedule. The Lone Star Showdown will return to College Station in 2025 as well.
Vanderbilt – South Carolina, Tennessee
A continuing home and home with Tennessee will be difficult every season but South Carolina should be manageable to at least get a win over the Gamecocks in two opportunities annually.
Baseball permanent opponents were in the rearview mirror when it came to the media and the fans thinking about it compared to football and basketball. Some teams in the SEC have different rivalries than they do in football, basketball, and other sports while others maintain the same ones. The conference’s baseball Starting in the spring of 2025, the SEC baseball schedule will include two permanent opponents for two series a year and eight more rotating series. Here are my projections for each SEC team’s future permanent baseball conference foes:
Alabama – Auburn, Ole Miss
Alabama will always keep Auburn on the schedule annually. However, the next permanent opponent on the Crimson Tide’s schedule is questionable. I picked Ole Miss but it could be any of LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee with baseball history between all of those four.
Arkansas – LSU, Texas A&M
One could argue Arkansas’ biggest baseball rival is LSU, Ole Miss, or Mississippi State. I picked LSU as Arkansas’ main baseball and had to make some changes to my projections and ended up with Texas A&M as the other one. Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn and A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle have a lot of history not only meeting as SEC opponents since Schloss took over A&M ahead of the 2021 season but also during his time at TCU when the Razorbacks and Horned Frogs met in the 2019 Fayetteville Regional.
Auburn – Alabama, Georgia
Butch Thompson has Auburn consistently hosting regionals now in the SEC. The obvious rivalry pairing for Auburn throughout this post has been Alabama and Georgia for the Tigers. Recently, Auburn has been the better baseball program than the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs, something they do not currently hold in football over those two schools.
Florida – Georgia, South Carolina
Battles between Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, Georgia head coach Wes Johnson, and South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston should be fantastic between the rivals. O’Sullivan, Johnson, and Kingston have a lot of history in the SEC so Florida is set when it comes to their baseball rivals.
Georgia – Auburn, Florida
Georgia’s rivarlies with Auburn and Florida were obvious picks to remain on their schedule for me with Wes Johnson coming in as their new head coach.
Kentucky – Missouri, Tennessee
Kentucky will get a tough series with Tony Vitello’s Tennessee club but should handle Missouri annually. The Wildcats hosted a regional in this year’s NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.
LSU – Arkansas, Mississippi State
With the history between LSU and Arkansas and Mississippi State, they were obvious picks to remain on the Tigers’ schedule. However, the familiarity between LSU and Ole Miss’ programs as natural rivals makes me think the Rebels could be in play for the “Bayou Bengals” as well.
Mississippi (Ole Miss) – Alabama, Mississippi State
Ole Miss will get a series with Mississippi State every year. However, Alabama is not a natural baseball rivalry for them. Mike Bianco, the head coach of the Rebels, attended LSU. The games between the Rebels and Tigers should stay on the schedule.
Mississippi State – LSU, Ole Miss
The Egg Bowl in baseball will stay put with Ole Miss for the Bulldogs as well as LSU in my projection. Arkansas is another program that has competed well with Mississippi State so they could be an option as well.
Missouri – Kentucky, Oklahoma
Missouri baseball has not been great as of late. They rarely appear in the NCAA Tournament. The Oklahoma series should return from the old Big 12 for the Tigers. Kentucky is another competitive team that could be on their schedule annually as well.
Oklahoma – Missouri, Texas
The Sooners will keep their rivalry with Texas going as they move into the SEC as well as renewing an old conference match up with Missouri in the Big 12. Oklahoma will look to return to the College World Series in 2024 after making it all the way to the finals in 2022.
South Carolina – Florida, Vanderbilt
Mark Kingston’s club gets two difficult series wins in Florida and Vanderbilt every season. The Gators and Commodores have two of the best programs in the country so the SEC may slide them an easier opponent that is not of those two.
Tennessee – Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Tennessee’s annual series with Vanderbilt is always a dandy with how good the two programs have been over the past few seasons. Kentucky is an up and coming team that Tennessee will likely have to deal with as well.
Texas – Oklahoma, Texas A&M
Texas and Texas A&M have played a few times in nonconference play over the last few seasons. But it will not be the same as when the two lock up again deep into SEC play, beginning in 2025. Oklahoma should also stay on the Longhorns schedule annually as well.
Texas A&M – Arkansas, Texas
The Aggies will get the Texas series back every season in addition to Arkansas. LSU also makes sense here with the games between those programs being very good.
Vanderbilt – South Carolina, Tennessee
Series between Tim Corbin’s Commodores and Tony Vitello’s Volunteers always have meaning for the postseason in the SEC and nationally. Vanderbilt keeping South Carolina on the schedule every year also makes sense with the great history between those two programs.