April 28, 2014
Auburn's Jay Jacobs says sticking with the current SEC schedule format is the right thing to do.
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs needs a non-conference football opponent for 2016.
If you're from the ACC, Big 12, Big 10 or Pac-12, please call.
The SEC announced Sunday that it is keeping its current eight-game conference schedule, a move that protects the Auburn-Georgia rivalry, but the league is also now requiring members to play at least one opponent each year from one of those power conferences.
"We had all agreed that until we determined whether it was an eight-game or nine-game format, we weren't going to schedule anybody that far out. Now, we'll immediately go to work on 2016," Jacobs said.
Auburn has routinely played teams from those leagues, such as Washington State from the Pac-12 last year and Kansas State from the Big 12 this year. Similar opponents from notable conferences have appeared on Auburn's schedule 14 of the last 15 years.
The league's decision to keep the current eight-game conference format kept the Auburn-Georgia series, the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry now played 117 times. That's because the league is sticking with the 6-1-1 division format, meaning Auburn will play all six of its West Division rivals, plus a permanent East Division rival (Georgia), plus a rotating East Division rival (this year, South Carolina).
Jacobs said keeping Georgia on the schedule was his "No. 1 priority" in discussions with other league members.
"Auburn has been a part of that game for over than 100 years," Jacobs said. "The relationship and the history and heritage between Auburn and Georgia was something we couldn't afford to change. Fortunately, we were able to keep it."
Jacobs said the discussions behind closed doors included "a lot of talk about nine games."
"We didn't know how it was going to go until we got into a room and talked about it. Nine games were discussed, eight games were discussed, the 6-0-2 was discussed and the 6-1-1. Everything was fully vetted," he said.
"It came down to the eight-game schedule and the 6-1-1 was the best format for our league.
"The last eight years an SEC team has played for the national championship, and won seven of those. We feel like the eight-game conference format is the right place for us."
Jacobs said he welcomed a chance to continue to play games from other power conferences.
"I like it. That's what we've been doing already, with Washington State and Kansas State, and Louisville next year. This won't be a change, based on what we've done. We've played teams like West Virginia and Clemson and Washington State, anyway."
Jacobs said he was also pleased that the league agreed to make each team's rivalry game the last game of the regular season. For Auburn, of course, that means playing Alabama.
"It should be a rivalry game for everybody as we all head to the SEC Championship. That was an important factor," Jacobs said.
Here are notable future, current and past regular-season opponents on Auburn's schedule since 2000:
Southern California, Georgia Tech
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:C