SEC stands with eight-game football schedule

Eight is enough.

The Southeastern Conference announced Sunday that it will stand pat with an eight-game schedule beyond 2015, with one provision.

Starting in 2016, all 14 teams must play at least one opponent from the other five major conferences: the Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference.

The league had considered playing a ninth conference game. With the College Football Playoff beginning this season, schedule strength will be considered by the committee that will select the four teams in the national semifinals.

Another conference game in what has been the nation’s toughest conference, with appearances in the last eight BCS National Championship Games, figured to be to the SEC’s advantage. What strengthens a SEC slate better than a SEC opponent?

Instead, the league will keep the current format into the future. Each team plays the six others in its division and adds a rotating cross-division opponent, and a permanent cross foe. This season, Missouri and Arkansas lock into each other’s schedules.

“Critical to maintaining this format is the non-conference opponent factor, which gives us the added strength of schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences,” Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement.

Last year, Purdue of the Big Ten announced a future series with the Tigers for games in 2017 and 2018, although contracts haven't been signed for the series. If those games are played, Missouri will need an opponent from another of the other major conferences in 2016.

This season, the Tigers play host to Indiana of the Big Ten.

SEC schools play an ACC opponent on a regular basis: South Carolina-Clemson, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State.

Slive said reasons for maintaining the status quo were keeping a balance of four home and four road games and allowing flexibility for SEC schools to keep playing neutral site non-conference games.

Slive said the SEC didn’t fix what wasn’t broken.

“The existing strength of the SEC was certainly a significant factor in the decision to play eight games,” Slive said.