On the Mystery of Georgia Not Playing at Texas A&M
You probably came across Matt Hayes piece over at SDS called No Georgia at Texas A&M? Why? Break out the conspiracy theories on Wednesday of this week. I certainly saw it, and I immediately called out Hayes for his poor logic (much to the chagrin of Chris Marler).
Be careful what you wish for Chris, as I will now explain how the SEC schedule works (or worked). In 2012, Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC. Those two teams joined as cross division rivals in 2012 and 2013 before the entire schedule was re-worked beginning in 2014. To be fair, the SDS article did call out that those years were a transition period.
In 2014, the schedule as it exists today began. Two things changed that year. First, the permanent cross division rivals were rearranged. Second, the rotation for each team to play the 6 teams they don't play on an annual basis was set in place for the next 12 years. Let's take a look at a single school to explain how this worked. I'm going to use Florida to avoid being called a homer.
As an SEC East team, Florida plays Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and LSU (cross division rival) every year. Outside of the 7 permanent opponents, each team only plays one more game in the 8 game SEC schedule. In the transition years of 2012 and 2013, Florida played at Texas A&M and hosted Arkansas, respectively.
In 2014, Florida began their rotation under the new SEC schedule (at the time). Essentially how this works is every team plays all six non-permanent opponents in six years (3 at home and 3 on the road). Then, they play those same six teams again over the following six years, swapping home or away as compared to the game in the first six year cycle. So, here's how that was set for Florida…
|2014||at Alabama||2020||at Ole Miss|
|2015||vs Ole Miss||2021||vs Alabama|
|2016||at Arkansas||2022||at Texas A&M|
|2017||vs Texas A&M||2023||vs Arkansas|
|2018||at Mississippi State||2024||at Auburn|
|2019||vs Auburn||2024||vs Mississippi State|
You may notice the pattern of how the two six year periods compare to each other and how teams swap home vs away for each opponent. You can look at every single team's schedule. They all work exactly the same way.
And as for the "conspiracy theory" about Georgia not playing at Texas A&M? Here's my favorite part from the SDS piece:
While I’m sure the official explanation is buttoned-up, I’m not sure that sits well at Florida, which played at Texas A&M in 2012 and 2020, and will visit College Station again in November. It will be the Gators’ 4th game against the Aggies, including a game in Gainesville in 2017.
Georgia, meanwhile, has played Texas A&M once (2019) since the Aggies joined the conference. In Athens.
Ok, look at Florida's schedule above. Since Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, Georgia has played Auburn every single year. Florida, meanwhile, has played Auburn once (2019). In Gainesville.
How is it possible that Florida hasn't played at Auburn since the SEC expanded in 2012? They couldn't play there in 2012, 2013, or the COVID year? (See what I did there?)
The fact is there are 8 teams that have yet to travel to an opponent since the SEC expanded in 2012. Here they are, and when they would have made the trip if not for everything getting blown up again when Texas and Oklahoma join.
Arkansas at Vanderbilt (2025)
Florida at Auburn (2024)
Georgia at Texas A&M (2024)
Mississippi State at Florida (2025)
Ole Miss at South Carolina (2025)
South Carolina at Alabama (2024)
Texas A&M at Kentucky (2025)
Vanderbilt at LSU (2024)
On top of that, the following matchups have only happened because of the all SEC schedule in 2020.
LSU at Missouri (2023)
Texas A&M at Tennessee (2023)
That's right, Texas A&M still hasn't played at Kentucky, and has only played at Tennessee because of the COVID year in 2020.
So no, it's not a conspiracy. It's just a function of understanding how the SEC Schedule works.
Edited by Jim Wood
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