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SEC Closing In On 13-Game Schedule… But 14th Team Could Join Any Day

The SEC has just about figured out its scheduling model for a 13-team league in 2012.  If/when Missouri joins the SEC this week, all that work could go right out the window.

Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph recently caught up with Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity and was told that the schedule plan should be revealed “sooner than later.”

In terms of key cross-divisional rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia, McGarity said he expects those games to be undisturbed.  Other cross-divisional games could disappear for a year, however.


“There are various challenges that will be clarified here shortly.  But we all realize that we’re just focusing on one year. … That’s really our mission right now, and we’re in the process of trading information back and forth…

There are several models that we have seen that keep your East opponents intact, and then keeping your Western common opponent intact.  And beyond that there are a number of different options.  But I think that we’ve seen the traditional rivals stay in place.”


McGarity said there’s been no talk of a 14-team schedule… which is what will be needed when Missouri comes aboard as expected.

Larry Templeton — the ex-MSU athletic director who is part of the SEC’s transition team — suggested last week that Texas A&M could be given an eight-game league schedule that actually consists of four games against the East and four games against the West (rather than the five divisional games and three cross-divisional games their West cohorts will play).

If that is part of the plan, and if the Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee rivalries are to be protected, it’s possible the other league teams might lose their cross-divisional permanent opponent for a year only.  That would allow the rest of the league’s cross-divisional rotation to roll on as expected.

Arkansas and South Carolina, Kentucky-Mississippi State, and Florida-LSU have no longstanding history pre-1992 expansion (though that UF-LSU game is a doozy).  Ole Miss-Vanderbilt is one of the league’s oldest rivalries, but could it be put on hiatus for one season?

Using such a plan would also allow A&M to host four teams and travel to four teams with all eight of those opponents keeping the same number of home and road games as they were originally scheduled to have.

Next year, Arkansas is scheduled to travel to South Carolina.  Kentucky is slated to travel to Mississippi State.  LSU will visit Florida.  And Vandy will go to Ole Miss.

So it’s possible the 2012 A&M schedule could feature Arkansas in College Station (or back in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium), Kentucky, LSU and Vanderbilt at home.  With road trips scheduled to South Carolina, Mississippi State, Florida and Ole Miss.

Just a thought.

A thought that will be completely moot if Mizzou can escape the Big 12 by next season.

 


10 comments
Brother Ben
Brother Ben

I figured it out!

Just flip Alabama and Auburn between the West and East division every two years. They each will have 2 permanent rivals regardless of which division they are in, one being each other. Additionally, Alabama will have Tennessee while in the West and LSU while in the East. Auburn will have Georgia while in the West and... also LSU, or Mississippi State? There will be no other cross-division permanent rivalries; the cycles mesh perfectly.

Brother Ben
Brother Ben

Missouri to the SEC East? They have a natural permanent rival in Texas A&M (unless South Carolina wants to switch).

Plus, everyone knows that expanding membership without expanding the conference schedule is a poor idea (see ACC); expect a switch to 9-games to accompany a growth to 16 teams when they renegotiate their next TV deal.

Gil
Gil

I know this comment is slightly out of place. I remembered your post on the rivalry games and realized, if you filter out the games that have been played fewer than 80 times, there are three natural "pods" in the old guard SEC: Aub-Ga-Fla, Ala-Tenn-Vandy-Kent, and LSU-Miss-MSU. Let's call those East, Central and West. South Carolina fits nicely in the East, and Texas A&M, Arkansas and Missouri in the West.

Let the East and Central divisions, with four teams each, be permanent. Give each member a permanent opponent from the other (Auburn-Alabama an obvious example). Then fill each division with three teams from the West on a rotating basis. The teams in the West would be split officially, but would play all other West teams every year, and have no permanent opponents from the Central or East. For instance:

2012 & 2013
East: Aub, Ga, Fla, SC, LSU, Miss, MSU
Central: Ala, Tenn, Vandy, Kent, A&M, Ark, Mo

2014 & 2015
East: Aub, Ga, Fla, SC, A&M, Ark, Mo
Central: Ala, Tenn, Vandy, Kent, LSU, Miss, MSU

With nine conference games, every team would play every other team at least twice every four years, and every longstanding rivalry (except Auburn-MSU) would be preserved or restored.

Brother Ben
Brother Ben

Either way, 14-teams with 8-games will likely result in the distruction of 1 permanent rivalry in the following chain:

Flordia-Georgia-Auburn-Alabama-Tennessee-Vanderbilt

If so, my vote is to split Alabama-Auburn, allowing them to be rotating rivals for the first two years. After that, they can schedule their own 9th SEC game (officially an out of conference game) for the end of the year. This game will still make or break either team's run to the National Title.

The other alternative is to keep two division and switch one of the teams on the end of that change (Florida or Vanderbilt) into the West, in exchange for both Alabama and Auburn. Vanderbilt makes the most geographical sense. Florida makes the most competitive sense. Then again, maybe the East-West disparity could be reset. Good bye Vanderbilt, at least you still keep the game vs. Tennessee as your cross-over.

Brother Ben
Brother Ben

I'd change your division names to South and North. But you are spot-on about the natural breaks between teams.

In the very likely case of sticking with 8 conference games for the next 4-6+ years, I'd propose having the "Central" pod be the larger, divided grouping. This pries the Mississippi schools away from LSU, but it does restore Auburn-MSU. It also keeps the current East-West divisions and, with only 8 conference games, it allows the two 4-team pods to go without permanent rivals against each other.

2012 & 2013
East: Fla, Ga, SC, Kent // Aub, MSU, Miss
West: Miz, Ark, A&M, LSU // Ala, Tenn, Vandy

2014 & 2015
East: Fla, Ga, SC, Kent // Ala, Tenn, Vandy
West: Miz, Ark, A&M, LSU // Aub, MSU, Miss

Every team has 3 permanent rivals and plays the other 10 teams twice every 4 years, for a total of 8 games every year. The teams in the central, rotating "pod" may have 1 of their 3 permanent rivals as a cross-over rival (ie. Auburn-Alabama). Switching Vandy with Auburn or Mississippi State are options, but the above alignment is most balanced.

This still leaves Auburn-Georgia as a twice every four year affair, but with only 8 games the same could be said with Auburn-Alabama in the novel alignment of the poster above.

strickinms
strickinms

I've already run the battery in my laptop down twice waiting for an anouncement, please hurry up SEC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BamaWahoo
BamaWahoo

So, it is possible then for TAMU to win the western division over a 1 loss team from the western division (AL or AU maybe) without ever playing those teams? If something like that happens expect a lot of angst.

DV80
DV80

Howdy BamaWahoo,

Exposing the conference to that kind of possibility for the sake of adding another member is one of the things that makes the SEC so great in my eyes. Talk about all for one!

IF and I do mean IF we rise to that much success, I hope we don't have the situation you described. I hope that any success we MAY have is clearly seen as legitimate. We'll do our best to win games, but winning enough to get into the championship game will be much harder than running the table in our current conference.

Gig'Em!

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

BamaWahoo...

Yep. That's the trouble with a 13-team league. There's no way to balance the schedules. When we spoke to a MAC official about their 13-team schedule last month, he told us that the tie-breaker scenario was one of the biggest pains involved.

There's really no way to play a round-robin schedule with two divisions of 6- and 7-teams.

In other words... hope Missouri joins soon.

Thanks for reading,
John

DV80
DV80

Howdy John,

I love the graphic! I really appreciate the SEC working to fit us in next year. The expression on the man's face in the little picture says it all! Hopefully, the projected add of Mizzou will make things easier, but from what I read of the realignment discussions, it may not.

Again, hats off to the SEC for taking us and working up a thirteen team schedule.

Gig'Em!



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