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Auburn To The SEC East? If The League Expands West, Then Yes

If the SEC were to expand and add Texas A&M and another member from the Big 12 (Oklahoma or Missouri, for argument’s sake), the big question would be: How will the league divvy up its 14 schools?

The simplest plan — and a plan that we believe would be A-1 on top of Mike Slive’s list of options — is one that Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News writes of today.

Auburn would move to the SEC East. 

That’s not far-fetched, folks.  There was debate when the SEC split into divisions 19 years ago over the placement of Auburn and Vanderbilt.  Grab a map and you’ll see that Auburn is actually a good bit east of Nashville.

Also — as Scarbinsky points out here – the Tigers have a deeper history with teams in the SEC East than with many of the teams in the SEC West.

Here are the five league schools Auburn has faced most often in football:

1.  Georgia — 114 games (the oldest rivalry in the Deep South)
2.  Mississippi State — 84 games
3.  Florida — 82 games
4.  Alabama — 75 games
5.  Tennessee — 51 games

The Tigers have played Georgia, Florida and Tennessee more than they’ve played Ole Miss, LSU and, obvisously, Arkansas.  For that reason, moving Auburn east would be quicker and less painful than just about any other scenario. 

The Iron Bowl game would become the permanent non-divisional game for both Auburn and Alabama.  And, yes, that could mean two AU-UA games each year if both schools won their divisions.  (Sidenote — If the SEC wanted to preserve the ancient Alabama-Tennessee rivalry, it might consider going back to having two permanent non-divisional rivals for each school.)

Either way, if the SEC adds just two teams and both come from west of the Mississippi River, we at would fully expect the league’s divisions to shakeout as follows:

SEC West
SEC East
Missouri or Oklahoma
Miss. State
S. Carolina
Ole Miss
Texas A&M

As we’ve said time and again, however, we believe we’re still a long way from the SEC announcing any new editions to its roster of schools.



Just merge all of the SEC and Big 12 and be done with it.

Knoxville Vol
Knoxville Vol

Unless the SEC goes back to a 5-2-1 format (which it once had but abandoned in favor of a 5-1-2 format), the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry will fall by the wayside. Alabama's "1" under the current format most certainly will be Auburn.


Knoxville Vol...

We stated that in the piece. You're right. The league would have to go back to having two permanent non-division foes for each school.



Simpler solution would be to move both Bama and Auburn East and Vandy West. Then you wouldn't have to worry about the "untouchable" games because you aren't effecting any of them. From a competitive balance standpoint, that might render the East both too strong and too self-canablizing, but from a geographical and traditional viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense.


Mizzou may have a problem traveling East so much though they may forgo that if that's what it takes to get into the SEC. I'm not sure the SEC officials would go for that idea though.

I think what should be considered as a possibility, especially if the SEC goes to 16, is that the divisional model should be scrapped altogether. Give each team 2 or 3 conference rivals that they will play every year and then rotate the remaining conference games like they do now with the cross divisional match ups. At the end of the season you take the 2 teams with the top records and match them in the championship game. It's radical, but it may be necessary. I don't think those considering expansion should overlook the "unity" aspect of the conference. The 12 team model works fine now because you can play every team in the other division at least twice in a 5 year period. If they add more teams then play all these new teams or the old teams for that matter will happen much less frequently than it does now with a 12 team model.

When the WAC went to 16 a few years back the scheduling was unwieldy because of how they set the rotation. A lot of traditional rivalries were lost and eventually it fell apart with the old WAC schools splitting off and forming the MWC. It would be a shame if this new SEC, if it happens, splits up a few years down the road because the traditional order would have been so disturbed. As it has been said, if you have a 16-team conference with 2 8-team divisions then you really have 2 conferences with a scheduling arrangement.


Mizzou would sell their grandmother to get out of the B12. They would still have close travel games with Ark and KY. Plus would have 2-3 other games against the west teams. It would also allow them to expand their brand out of the midwest, and give TN, UGA and even Florida a more national exposure with games in the midwest.

However I do like the more round robin games approach above. Have each school preserve 3-4 games and the rotate the other schools and then just have the two best records face off in Atlanta. Of course UT will be quick to preserve the Bama, Vandy and Ky games, and probably UF. I think everyone would fight to play Vandy and Kentucky every year.

Mr. Freddy
Mr. Freddy

Add the Iron Bowl to the top of the list of rivalry games the SEC won't break up


Yeah, Iron Bowl is so untouchable I didn't bother listing it!


If there is expansion with OU, I could see this sorting out this way. If it Mizzou, I can see them being sloted for the SEC East with a permanent cross game with Arkansas. This way they play their three bordering states each year (Ark, KY an TN). Tamu and USC would play every year as a permanent game. I think the expansion to 14 teams would only be for a few years. Then if in 2-6 years there is expansion to 16 teams, teams could be reassigned into more geographic divisions.



I think it would be tough to place Missouri in the same division with Florida and South Carolina. That's quite a haul for divisional games. Not saying it's not a possibility, but I wouldn't rank that one high on my list.

Just me.



Auburn to the east definitely makes the most sense. I would say the following are rivalries that under no circumstances the SEC will break up:

Alabama - Tennessee
Auburn - Georgia
Georgia - Florida
Ole Miss - Miss State

I would say every thing else is on the table. But there's no way these teams are giving these games up.

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