Tigers and Tidesmen, gather alike and listen to this futuristic and exciting idea.
In the name of saving rivalries, let’s move the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers to the SEC East and stick Missouri and Texas AM in the SEC West. This wouldn’t happen for a few years, if it’s even approved, but it’s the surefire way to save/renew a truckload of rivalries.
With the mass changes that are coming to college football quicker than we’d all like, you would think that some of them would benefit the SEC as opposed to leveling the playing field for the rest of the conferences.
Well, I can name exactly two changes that are good for the SEC—the Champions Bowl (the Rose Bowl equivalent for the SEC and Big 12 champs) and the four-team playoff (which is only good relative to the mess that is the BCS).
Expansion is not something that benefits the SEC. It hurts it. Badly.
The SEC has all the power it needs, thank you very much. The conference’s last six BCS Championships proves that it pretty much runs college football. Kentucky gives it some basketball power, South Carolina gives it some baseball credentials, Vanderbilt provides it with an academic power, and Florida’s soon to be announced back-to-back Capital One Cups will officially give the SEC the best overall athletic program in the nation.
The point is, the SEC doesn’t need any new additions. Recruiting is going just fine. Plenty of SEC schools raid the state of Texas anyway. The Aggies do have a great environment at Kyle Field… but it still can’t compare with the Swamp, or Death Valley or even a packed Neyland Stadium. Missouri may help a little with basketball, but football will be different.
No college football fan in their right mind would want to end this rivalry
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But it’s already happened, so now, the bigwigs in the SEC are discussing how to devise future schedules, which means how inter-divisional games will be played.
With six inter-divisional games, permanent cross-division opponents may be banished. That’s a shame when you realize that under the 6-2 scheduling format, rivalries such as Alabama-Tennessee, Florida-LSU, Georgia-Auburn, just to name a few, may perish. Everybody wants to keep them.
Well, everybody, that is, except for Les Miles, coach of the LSU Tigers. He doesn’t want to play Florida anymore, even though Will Muschamp—who coached the team that LSU throttled last year—wants to keep it going.
No? OK. Fine with me. As a huge Gator fan, I personally want this series to continue, because it’s been really exciting lately, but if the Mad Hatter doesn’t want to, that’s cool. The Gators will take their 30-25 series lead, shake your hand, wish you the best and march on, because they have other rivalries to renew.
And the best way to renew said rivalries—not just for Florida, but for other schools, too—is to move Alabama and Auburn to the SEC East and put Missouri and Texas AM in the West.
I know, that sounds crazy. But by doing this, you are saving three of the biggest rivalries in all of sports, renewing three others and creating countless others. On the contrast, this move only destroys two good, and one decent rivalry.
Once upon a time, the Auburn Tigers and the Florida Gators were the biggest rivals not to play on Thanksgiving weekend in the SEC. Some memorable games include Steve Spurrier kicking the winning field goal, Auburn returning the favor pretty much every year Spurrier coached the Gators (except for when Florida would crush Auburn) and the epic game in 2007, when Wes Byrum—guess what?—kicked the winning field goal in the Swamp and then ran around like a drunken idiot doing the Gator Chomp.
Auburn-Georgia, the Deep South’s Oldest rivalry
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This series somehow survived the 1992 version of conference expansion for 11 years, but was eventually closed down when the SEC ruled that each team should be playing more teams from the opposite division in 2003.
Florida and Alabama have provided great matchups in the SEC Championship Game. Moving Alabama to the same division would assure that they never play in the SEC Championship again, but that doesn’t mean the stakes can’t be high within the division. The 2001 game between Florida and Tennessee meant a lot, didn’t it? How about the Florida-Georgia game in 2008?
Can you imagine if these two teams played towards the end of the season, and in six out of every 10 seasons, a berth in Atlanta was on the line? Plus, there’s the whole Saban vs. Muschamp storyline for the near future.
I felt that the above rivalries needed a paragraph of explanation to remind fans of how great they once were and would be if they were played annually now. Hopefully, Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia need no explanation of why it would be great to see them all play every year.
I’m not happy about killing the Florida-LSU rivalry, but if LSU wants to discontinue it, fine. That’s one of only two really good rivalries that would perish if Alabama and Auburn moved to the East. The other one is Alabama-LSU, and it’s only been good in the last few years. Historically, Alabama has dominated the Tigers.
The only other rivalry that’s even worth watching is Auburn-LSU, and that’s solely because the two teams share the same name. Only twice in the last 10 years were both teams good (2006 and 2010), and the 2006 game could not have been more boring (Auburn won 7-3). Sure, they provide good games, but so does the Kentucky-Vanderbilt series. Big deal.
Then, think about the other rivalries that could be (in some cases re) created. Alabama-Georgia, Auburn-Tennessee, South Carolina-Auburn and Alabama-South Carolina, to name a few.
Moving the two Alabama teams to the SEC East also makes sense geographically. The Missouri campus is farther west than the majority of SEC West teams, yet the Mizzou Tigers were placed in the East division. It makes absolutely no geographical sense.
Columbia, Missouri is 1,008 miles from Gainesville, 873 miles from Columbia, South Carolina, 737 miles from Athens and 610 miles from Knoxville. The two closest schools (Kentucky and Vanderbilt) are 460 miles away and 431 miles away.
But perhaps the funniest part of all of this is the thought of an SEC West team (Auburn) traveling roughly 400 miles west to play a team from the SEC East (for those that are interested, it’s about 735 miles northwest).
Who are we fooling? Mizzou doesn’t belong in the East. It belongs in the Weak West—at least that’s what it would be if the two Alabama schools come to the SEC East.
So Alabama and Auburn fans, think this over. You’d obviously still get to play each other every Thanksgiving. You’d get to save your inter-division rivalries, reignite some old flames and start some new ones with quality teams.
There’s no telling what future scheduling could be like. The Auburn-Florida rivalry survived expansion initially, but was suddenly and unceremoniously ended after 11 years. Maybe that’s what will happen to Alabama-Tennessee or Auburn-Georgia. So trade the Mississippi schools, LSU and Arkansas for Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
What do you guys say?