USA TODAY International Edition

2024 SEC schedule claps back on Saban, Alabama

- Blake Toppmeyer

Nick Saban aired his grievance, but the SEC didn’t budge.

This spring, the longtime football coach used an interview with Sports Illustrate­d to question the fairness of the SEC earmarking Auburn, LSU and Tennessee as Alabama’s annual rivals in a proposed nine- game conference schedule. Alabama pulled its previous support for a nine- game schedule, and, two weeks ago, presidents and chancellor­s from SEC institutio­ns voted to retain an eight- game SEC schedule in 2024.

The comeuppanc­e came Wednesday, when the Crimson Tide got served a gantlet of a 2024 schedule during the SEC’s reveal.

Auburn, LSU and Tennessee are on the docket as rivals, just like the SEC had planned for the spiked nine- game format. In a pitting of blue bloods, Alabama will play at Oklahoma. And here’s the kicker: Alabama will host two- time defending national champion Georgia.

Dates have not been announced.

A trip to Vanderbilt presents as a small peace offering to Alabama, but this collection of opponents nonetheles­s ought to dispel the notion that the SEC office runs through Saban’s desk.

The emperor spoke out of turn from Tuscaloosa, and the commission­er clapped back Wednesday from Birmingham.

The SEC didn’t go easy on Georgia, either.

The rivalry game against Florida in Jacksonvil­le counts as one of Georgia’s home games in ’ 24, so Georgia was assigned three true SEC home games compared to four true road games, including the trip to Bryant- Denny Stadium, where Alabama hasn’t lost since 2019.

The regular- season pairing of top dogs Alabama and Georgia is a nod to the College Football Playoff increasing to 12 teams in 2024.

In a four- team playoff, it worked convenient­ly for the SEC that Alabama and Georgia were in opposite divisions and did not regularly play during the regular season. That structure helped create the path for both teams to make the playoff in 2017 and again in 2021.

With a 12- team playoff in place, the Georgia- Alabama game remains a marquee matchup, but not a playoff eliminator.

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