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June 1, 2012

SEC announces schedule formats for hoops, football

DESTIN, Fla. - Kentucky is going to see some fresh faces on its Southeastern Conference basketball and football schedules and a little less of some familiar ones under scheduling formats announced Friday.

The league announced its new men's basketball and football scheduling formats to reporters at the SEC Meetings, officially adding two conference games to the men's basketball schedule and unveiling a much-discussed "6-1-1" format in football to accommodate Missouri and Texas A&M, which join the league for the 2012-13 school year.

In men's basketball, the league will jump from 16 to 18 conference games. Each team will play:

-Two games (one home and one road) against a permanent rival. Those rivalries are: Kentucky-Florida, Alabama-Auburn, Arkansas-Missouri, Georgia-South Carolina, LSU-Texas A&M, Ole Miss-Mississippi State and Tennessee-Vanderbilt.

-Two games each (one home and one road) against four rotating opponents.

-One game each (four home and four road) against the remaining eight opponents.

Basketball's four rotating opponents will be determined at random on a three-year cycle. A team won't play home-and-homes against those opponents in back-to-back years.

For example, if Kentucky draws Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas and Mississippi State to play twice in 2012-13, it won't play any of those teams twice in 2013-14 or 2014-15.

Over a three-year period, the Wildcats will play Florida six times and every other SEC team four times.

The SEC will jump from a total of 96 conference games to 126. All will continue to air on some television platform.

"If you're sitting at ESPN, you're thinking, 'Thirty games? That's a lot of inventory," SEC Associate Commissioner Mark Whitworth said. "That's a challenge for them. They came in and spent a day and a half with us, just talking nothing but basketball scheduling and how we're going to try to put all these games on the various platforms that we have.

Conference play still will begin in January; the SEC will eliminate the off weeks that previously have been built into the schedule, so each school will play 18 straight conference dates.

The SEC men's basketball tournament also will change formats.

All 14 schools will play in the league tournament, which will begin a day earlier, on Wednesday of tournament week. The No. 12 and No. 13 seeds will play at 7:30 p.m. followed by the No. 11 and No. 14 seeds at 10 p.m.

The top four seeds will receive double byes and won't play until Friday.

The SEC's football scheduling format will be the 6-1-1 model. Each team will play six games against its divisional opponent, one permanent non-division game and one rotating non-division game. The rotating non-divisional opponents, unlike in previous years, will rotate on a single-year rotation.

Previously, the rotating non-divisional opponents rotate changed every two years upon the completion of a home-and-home series. The new format will allow SEC schools to play every opponent in a six-year span and visit every SEC venue in a 12-year cycle.

"It was a healthy debate, but an overwhelming majority voted for the 6-1-1," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "It was even beyond the super majority."

Kentucky's permanent non-division game will continue to be against Mississippi State. Texas A&M and South Carolina will play every year, and Missouri and Arkansas will play every year. The remainder of the permanent cross-divisional matchups, including the Tennessee-Alabama and Georgia-Auburn rivalries, will not change.

The other permanent cross-divisional opponents will continue to pair Ole Miss with Vanderbilt, and LSU with Florida.

Other proposals would have moved the conference to nine league games or eliminated the permanent cross-divisional games.

A plan proposed by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier to select teams for the SEC Championship Game based solely on divisional records didn't seem to gain much traction at any point during the week.

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