LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Southeastern Conference announced Sunday that it will stay with an eight-game conference schedule as college football moves into the playoff era next season.
That, of course, is good news for the University of Kentucky-University of Louisville football rivalry, which likely would've been history had the SEC decided to go to a nine-game slate.
The league also is requiring all 14 of its teams to play at least one opponent from the other four power conferences (or Notre Dame). All but four of its teams did so last season, anyway. It considered barring its members from playing opponents from the Football Championship Subdivision, but did not.
The ACC, which meets next month in Florida, was a watching the SEC decision closely, and was expected to follow suit with whatever the SEC decided. This coming season will be the first in which UK and U of L will meet in the final game of the season, as part of an agreement between the conferences that moved several rivalries to the end of the season.
U of L athletic director Tom Jurich said U of L would continue to play UK regardless of the number of conference games it faces. UK had not made that commitment.
Now, it won't matter for the next six to eight years. Leagues feel some pressure to add conference games to increase their television "inventory" for network partners, or, in the case of the SEC, for its own television network.
The SEC also decided to keep its 6-1-1 scheduling format, which has each team playing six games against its divisional opponents, one game against a permanent opponent from the opposite division, and one rotating game against the other division.
UK's permanent opponent in the Western Division is Mississippi State.
That decision, passed on a 10-4 vote, drew some quick criticism from LSU athletic director Joe Alleva. The Tigers now are locked into playing Florida every year. He argues that it's not a fair setup.
"I'm disappointed that the leadership of our conference doesn't understand the competitive advantage permanent partners give to certain institutions," he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I tried to bring that up very strongly at the meeting today. In our league we share the money and expenses equally, but we don't share our opponents equally."