Three SEC coaches will hate division-less SEC Football the most

Missing out on a resume-building opportunity in Atlanta could seriously damage Playoff chances for three SEC football coaches.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It is not even June and already debates have begun about the 2024 season CFB Playoff. Dennis Dodd reported SEC football programs are already lobbying that 9-3 SEC teams should not be excluded from the 12-team Playoff field.

According to Dodd, one unnamed source considered knowledgeable said the conferences don't trust the Playoff Selection committee. Publicly Greg Sankey has praised the past work of Playoff selection committees. Next December will test that trust considerably.

For SEC football programs, the concern is posting a 9-3 record and missing the Playoff to a team with only two losses, but that played a weaker schedule. That could happen to multiple SEC football teams.

Adding to the negative 'what if' of Playoff thinking is the SEC's new division-less structure. Three coaches are most at risk with a team that finishes 9-3 or even 10-2 and does not make it to Atlanta. Not only would that mean those teams have no chance to win an SEC Championship, but it would also mean no chance to become the SEC's auto-qualifier for the Playoffs. Possibly even the losing team in Atlanta would be viewed more favorably for an at-large bid than other SEC teams with the same record.

Further discussion requires some assumptions. Let's assume the teams with the best chances to reach Atlanta are Georgia, Texas, Ole Miss, and the Alabama Crimson Tide. If that assumption proves true what could be very good LSU and Missouri teams might miss the Playoffs. Brian Kelly could have a 10-2 team, but if the Bengal Tigers do not beat Ole Miss or Alabama, LSU might miss the Playoffs. Losing to Alabama and another SEC game could put Eli Drinkwitz's Missouri team in the same position.

A similar situation could befall Josh Heupel and the Tennessee Vols. Heupel has one advantage over Drinkwitz and Kelly in that the Vols have a chance to beat Alabama and Georgia in the regular season. But if Tennessee loses those two games, getting to Atlanta will be unlikely.

It is impossible to predict how the season will play out for a single team, much less seven teams. A fair prediction is the SEC will get four Playoff teams. That will leave one or more other SEC teams complaining a Playoff participant stole their chance at a slot by playing a far weaker schedule.

How different will a division-less SEC be for the Alabama Crimson Tide? At least for Alabama football fans, it will be very different. Five of the Tide's 2024 SEC games are against former SEC East division teams.