The decision by the Southeastern Conference to stick with an eight-game league schedule means programs can now ramp up lining up opponents for 2016 and beyond.
Georgia football coach Mark Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity signaled Wednesday they will move forward cautiously with adding other power conference teams to the nonconference schedule besides the annual game with Georgia Tech.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm sure there‚Äôll be some others down the road that will be those types of games,‚Äù Richt said on the SEC‚Äôs spring coaches‚Äô teleconference. ‚ÄúI think we have to be a little bit careful how we do it. You don‚Äôt want to have too many seasons when you don‚Äôt have six home games. I haven‚Äôt even looked at it. If you get too many of those types of games, you could conceivably only have five home games. I think we should have six, seven, even eight home games at times. I know a lot of times that‚Äôs not going to happen because we play Florida in Jacksonville but I just think we‚Äôve got to be careful about it, but I think there will be some of those coming down the road.‚Äù
The SEC is mandating its teams play one game against teams from the ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten each season. Georgia Tech fulfills that requirement for Georgia.
Georgia also plays Clemson this season.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve always said that we would hope to schedule another game of that nature periodically,‚Äù McGarity said, ‚Äúbut periodically has no time frame.‚Äù
The 2015 nonconference schedule has Southern Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.
SEC presidents and chancellors voted Sunday to keep the 6-1-1 format of playing six games against division foes, one permanent crossover opponent and one rotating crossover.
Alabama coach Nick Saban wanted nine games, which the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten will play, but he was in the minority.
‚ÄúIf you play nine in our league with how strong it is, maybe you‚Äôre knocking one or two teams out of bowl games,‚Äù Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. ‚ÄúIf you‚Äôre playing nine, I think it also reduces the possibility of knocking somebody out of the top four.‚Äù
Pinkel was referencing the new four-team college football playoff.
The SEC won seven consecutive national titles in the BCS era before Auburn lost to Florida State in the championship game in January.
‚ÄúAt the end of the day, you must win,‚Äù McGarity said. ‚ÄúI think that‚Äôs why the SEC formula has been so popular. The eight (SEC games) plus one (power conference team), which we‚Äôve been doing anyway without it being mandated, it‚Äôs already practiced.‚Äù
LSU, which plays Florida annually, has been the most outspoken about the permanent crossover opponent remaining.
‚ÄúTo say this is the fairest and right way to pick a champion, I think is flawed,‚Äù said Tigers coach Les Miles, who mentioned LSU having to play Florida and Georgia in the same season five times since 2000.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre getting a bad deal out of this,‚Äù South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said of LSU.
Miles wanted an eight-game schedule with two rotating cross-division opponents, not the 6-1-1.
Georgia is pleased with the format, which allows the Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee rivalries to continue annually.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm very comfortable with it,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI think the game with Auburn is important to our people. I think it‚Äôs important to the South as far as rivalries go. I think that‚Äôs a big part of college football. I‚Äôm fine with that knowing that we already had a power conference game outside of the league. It really wasn‚Äôt going to change much of what we‚Äôre doing. I guess when things don‚Äôt change sometimes people have a comfort level with that, but I think everybody‚Äôs going to have a strong enough schedule. I think everybody‚Äôs going to play enough tough opponents to not hurt anybody‚Äôs chance of playing in the final four.‚Äù
McGarity said he wants at least seven home games each season, which the eight-game SEC schedule makes easier.
‚ÄúIn today‚Äôs financial model, you cannot leave $2.5 million off the table by only having six home games,‚Äù McGarity said. ‚ÄúYou would not really be able to run your program properly.‚Äù
Florida coach Will Muschamp wanted eight league games, whether there was one or two rotating crossovers.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no perfect answer to please everybody,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúWe did what was best for our league. We all have a hidden agenda, whatever university we represent and passed what‚Äôs best for the SEC.‚Äù
Follow Marc online at twitter.com/marcweiszer.