DESTIN, Fla. (AP) - Florida coach Will Muschamp wants to avoid playing teams from the Football Championship Subdivision.
And not because the Gators lost to lower-division Georgia Southern last year.
Speaking at the Southeastern Conference’s annual spring meetings Tuesday, Muschamp said he would prefer a 12-game schedule that features eight league teams, in-state rival Florida State and three more teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“We’re probably going to move forward without playing FCS opponents,” Muschamp said, noting that his reasoning primarily has to do with getting his team in the best position to make the college football playoff that begins next season.
“And I think our fan base wants to see better opponents,” he added.
“I understand what Will’s saying,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “In a perfect world, you play all D-I schools. But also you have to have 12 opponents.”
The meetings were the first chance for many coaches to weigh in on scheduling. The SEC decided last month to stick with its current format of eight league games and a permanent non-division rival.
The one change will affect nonconference scheduling. Starting in 2016, all SEC teams will be required to play at least one game against a team from one of the other Big Five conferences - the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12.
That tweak shouldn’t affect many programs. SEC schools routinely play at least one team from those conferences every season.
Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas A&M; and Vanderbilt do not play non-conference games against teams in the Big Five. Only Arkansas, Texas A&M; and Kentucky did not play a non-conference game against a Big Five team last year.
So several of those nonconference games come against FCS teams. In fact, all 14 SEC teams play at least one lower-division team in 2014. And commissioner Mike Slive called it an “institutional decision,” adding that he has no plans to dictate scheduling.
“At this point, I believe it’s best for us to continue doing that,” Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said. “I just find it hard to believe that one game like that … over the totality of the season would really hinder you if you perform well in those other games.”
Georgia Southern shocked Florida 26-20 in Gainesville last season, a humbling loss that guaranteed the Gators their first losing season since 1979.