SEC '24 ledger should be exciting


Sorry I've been scarce lately, folks, but I've had a few landmines to tiptoe through.

Just a bit over a week ago, I underwent heart-valve replacement surgery. I was a hot mess health wise, but the doctors tell me I'm doing fine now. Thanks to my friends, colleagues, family members, readers, listeners and everyone else who offered prayers and good wishes during my procedure. You all were too kind.

I plan to resume my radio show soon, but I still have a way to go. I want to make my voice stronger before I get back behind the microphone, but I'll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Heeeeee's baaaaaaaack!

Now, it's time to get back to business as usual.

So what did I miss? My Reds are on a roll, but I foolishly wrote this before they played today, so, so much for that. Tennessee is back at the College World Series in Omaha, which is providing a lot of excitement.

However, Wednesday, the Southeastern Conference disclosed the eight-game, 2024 football schedule. It has drawn praise and scrutiny. Florida has a pretty tough slate in that it has Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, Central Florida, A&M, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Texas. That's a pretty challenging worksheet, especially with a coach in Billy Napier who is precariously perched on a warm seat.

How about Alabama and Georgia playing in the regular season? Tell me that won't be a hot ticket in Tuscaloosa.

There are some Auburn fans who are a bit disgruntled that LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are off the schedule for the first time in decades. This is just a sign of the times, folks. TV consideration and cash trump tradition in this era.

I'm not sure the SEC did many favors to Oklahoma and Texas. The rivalries with Oklahoma and A&M are preserved and restored for the Longhorns and Florida visits Austin for the first time since 1939. Georgia also visits Texas.

As for Oklahoma, it hosts Tennessee and Alabama and has a road trip to LSU.

These Big 12 exports have a brand name and history, but playing in the Big 12 isn't the same thing as playing in the Southeastern Conference. Ultimately, I think this will be a good move for these teams and the league, though I didn't feel this way initially. I think these two programs will make the league stronger and more entertaining.

Tennessee has Georgia, Florida, Alabama and a road trip to Oklahoma. South Carolina is absent from the Vols' schedule for the first time since 1992. It's tough, but I think the Vols will be one of those teams who will be at the top echelon of the league. Had the Vols been floundering as they were before Josh Heupel, I'd have been concerned. Tennessee will have its hiccups, but should be fine, if what we are seeing from this regime is legit, and I have every reason to believe it is.

The Big 10 can bring in Southern Cal and UCLA. That's fine. The Big 10 will be a challenger, but even with the new additions, will lack the SEC's depth.

The conference landscape is in a state of flux and college athletics are undergoing a radical evolution. But the SEC is demonstrating it's going to be an entertaining package.

Laying the 2024 schedule on us now just makes us ready to drop the green flag...and we have the 2023 season to play.

Jim Steele wrote this from a hospital bed and is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing. He also is the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs Monday-Thursday, 4-6 p.m. on 95.9 FM, WRJB radio, Camden, Tenn.