Jul 10, 2017; Hoover, AL, USA; A Southeastern Conference ESPN football helmet during SEC media days at Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Winfrey Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN won’t become the exclusive home of the SEC until next July.

But we’re already getting a taste of the type of treatment that the conference will be receiving from “The Worldwide Leader.”

As had been previously announced, ESPN will reveal the SEC’s 2024 football schedule in a primetime special on Wednesday night. Disney didn’t wait until 7 p.m. ET, however, to give the SEC the NFL treatment, with ABC’s Good Morning America announcing that the highly anticipated matchup between Alabama and Georgia will take place on Sept. 28 with a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on ABC.

According to an ESPN release, Wednesday’s special “will disclose the competition dates for the 2024 season in primetime on ESPN and SEC Network.” Laura Rutledge will host the two-hour show, along with ESPN college football analysts Joey Galloway, Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow.

ESPN’s SEC schedule release takes a page out of the playbook of the NFL, which has turned something as mundane as a schedule release into an annual spectacle. In recent years, the league has used its television partners to announce premier matchups throughout the day leading up to the release — just as ESPN did with the Alabama-Georgia matchup announcement on GMA.

As noted by Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, one advantage to ESPN being the exclusive home of the SEC is that it can announce kickoff times further in advance, as the network no longer has to concern itself with CBS’s share of the schedule. Meanwhile, such an advanced schedule release would be difficult for the Big Ten to pull off, as the conference splits its rights between Fox, CBS and NBC.

Curiously, despite also having its exclusive rights, ESPN has yet to announce a similar football schedule release showcase for the ACC (it did host one for men’s and women’s basketball on the ACC Network this past September). But as we already saw with the network’s response to Florida State’s snub in favor of Alabama in the College Football Playoff, it’s clear that the ACC is going to have to get used to being second fiddle.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.