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SEC Realignment And Schedule Options – Part Three

When the SEC finally welcomes in a 14th member — and like everyone else we fully expect that 14th school to be Missouri — the league will face the incredibly important chore of realigning its divisions.  The breakdown of that alignment will impact schedules, fan travel, competitive balance, and more than two dozen rivalries that have been played 60 or more times each.

Needless to say, the SEC had better get it right.

The league’s goal will no doubt be to protect as many traditional rivalries as possible.  Also, you can count on the fact that the SEC will want to move as few teams as possible from their current divisional homes.  The less change the better.  Finally, competitive balance outweighed geography when the league broke into divisions in 1992.  Geography might not be a big issue this time around, either.

Below, we’ll look at a number of different realignment options.  We’ll see which plans protect the most often played rivalries.  We’ll examine the aforementioned idea of competitive balance.  And we’ll discuss several other issues that will all be impacted by the league’s divisional alignment.

For reference, when we discuss competitive balance, we’ll talk about the SEC’s eight winningest programs according to all-time winning percentage: Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and Arkansas.

For a breakdown of scheduling formats (5-1-2, 6-1-1, and 6-1-2) please read Part One of this series.

Also, here’s the list of SEC rivalries that have been played 60 or more times (and with Texas A&M joining the league next year, we include Texas A&M-Arkansas on our list of 23) which we covered in Part Two of this series:

 

Auburn-Georgia 114… Mississippi State-Ole Miss 107… Kentucky-Tennessee 106

Tennessee-Vanderbilt 105… LSU-Mississippi State 104… LSU-Ole Miss 98

Alabama-Mississippi State 95… Alabama-Tennessee 93… Florida-Georgia 88

Ole Miss-Vanderbilt 85… Auburn-Mississippi State 84… Kentucky-Vanderbilt 83

Auburn-Florida 82… Alabama-Vanderbilt 82… Alabama-Auburn 75

Alabama-LSU 74… Georgia-Vanderbilt 72… Arkansas-Texas A&M 67

Alabama-Georgia 65… Ole Miss-Tennessee 64… Georgia-Kentucky 64

Georgia-South Carolina 63… and Florida-Kentucky 61

 

To date, two plans have generated the most talk in league circles.  Obviously we’ll discuss those plans, but for the sake of argument, we’ll also discuss two other plans that have been pushed by fans on messageboards and blogs.  Let’s begin with the plan that’s caused the most discussion…

 

Realignment Option 1 — Auburn to the SEC East

SEC West   SEC East
Alabama   Auburn
Arkansas   Florida
LSU   Georgia
Miss. State   Kentucky
Missouri   S. Carolina
Ole Miss   Tennessee
Texas A&M   Vanderbilt

 

If the SEC uses an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format, these old rivalries will not be played:  Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Mississippi State, Alabama-Vanderbilt (not played now), Alabama-Georgia (not played now), and Ole Miss-Tennessee (not played now).

Old rivalries reborn with an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format:  Auburn-Florida (not played now)

Current permanent cross-divisional rivals affected:  Alabama-Tennessee would be lost as Alabama-Auburn would become permanent cross-divisional foes.  Auburn-Georgia would become a divisional rivalry, so Georgia would join Tennessee in looking for a new cross-divisional foe.  One would likely play Missouri each year and the other Texas A&M.  The one landing Texas A&M would get a boost in recruiting the state of Texas.

Competitive balance:  The league’s eight all-time winningest programs would be divided evenly.

Why do this:  Auburn president Jay Gogue has already said his school would be fine with a move to the East.  Not only do the Tigers and Georgia play the oldest rivalry in the SEC each year, Auburn has also played Florida (82) and Tennessee (51) more often than it has played LSU (45) and Ole Miss (35).  Auburn — which is technically east of Nashville — wound up in the West in 1992 (and Vanderbilt in the East) as the result of a push to create competitive balance in the league.  SEC presidents wanted to divide the six all-time winningest clubs evenly — Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in the West… Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in the East.  Moving Auburn east would allow Missouri to stay in the West where it belongs (at least in terms of geography).  The Tigers would be able to start a rivalry with neighboring Arkansas and continue their Big 12 relationship with Texas A&M.  Gary Pinkel rebuilt Mizzou football by recruiting the Lone Star State.  Though Missouri officials are supposedly fine with either the East or the West, their coaches would likely prefer the West for the sake of Texas recruiting.

Why not do this:  Moving Auburn to the East would end one of — if not the — signature rivalry in the SEC.  Historically speaking, Alabama-Tennessee is a matchup of the league’s two most successful programs.  Breaking them up would be akin to splitting Oklahoma-Nebraska (which the Big 12 did), North Carolina-Duke, or Notre Dame-Southern Cal.  There’s a lot of history there.  Also, Alabama reportedly isn’t keen on the idea of Auburn putting down recruiting roots in Georgia and Florida (though with AU’s proximity to both states, it’s doubtful they would get much of a boost over their current solid efforts).

One caveat:  If the SEC were to go to a nine-game schedule and use a 6-2-1 format (6 divisional foes, 2 permanent cross-divisional rivals, and 1 rotating cross-divisional foe each year) Alabama could protect its games with both Auburn and Tennessee.  However, as we discussed in Part One of this series, we believe the SEC will eventually move away from any format featuring just one rotating opponent.  Such plans leave too many years between games with cross-divisional opponents.  Also, while Alabama has two cross-divisional rivalries worthy of protection, many schools don’t have a natural second rival to add.  Heck, some schools (Kentucky, Mississippi State, Arkansas and South Carolina) really don’t have one cross-divisional rival worth playing each year.  Would the league add another layer of permanent opponents and create a slower rotation of cross-divisional foes just to protect the Crimson Tide-Volunteer rivalry?  Not if there are better options.

Verdict:  This one is a real possibility and depending on who you talk to, Auburn is actually campaigning for this to happen.  We initially believed this would be the simplest solution.  Auburn has more history with teams in the East than with teams in the West.  But that Alabama-Tennessee rivalry has been mentioned by ADs and presidents across the league as one to save.  They’ll likely do what it takes to save it if they can do so without creating a mess for other schools.  We’ve come to believe that this scenario — Auburn to the SEC East — is actually the #2 option at this point, not the #1 option, because there’s another slightly less messy option.

 

Realignment Option 2 — Missouri to the SEC East

SEC West   SEC East
Alabama   Florida
Arkansas   Georgia
Auburn   Kentucky
LSU   Missouri
Miss. State   S. Carolina
Ole Miss   Tennessee
Texas A&M   Vanderbilt

 

If the SEC uses an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format, these old rivalries will not be played:  Auburn-Florida (not played now), Alabama-Vanderbilt (not played now), Alabama-Georgia (not played now), and Ole Miss-Tennessee (not played now)

Old rivalries reborn with an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format:  None

Current permanent cross-divisional rivals affected:  If Missouri lands in the East, the Tigers will be given either Arkansas or Texas A&M as a permanent, protected rival.  Arkansas makes sense because the two states border one another and both could use another rival.  But Texas A&M would allow Missouri to continue to hold on to its recruiting base in Texas.  A Mizzou-A&M pairing would also allow the yearly Arkansas-South Carolina game to continue, which would mean no current cross-divisional rivalries would be affected under this plan.

Competitive balance:  Five of the league’s all-time winningest programs would be in the SEC West while only three would reside in the SEC East.

Why do this:  Putting Missouri in the East Division would create the least amount of negative fallout for the league’s current members.  Not one of the SEC’s 23 oldest rivalries would be lost (the four that would not be played are the same four that aren’t played now).  And while Missouri clearly sits to the west on a map, the distances from Columbia to the schools of the East aren’t that much greater than the distances from Columbia to the schools of the West.  (Distance from MU campus to SEC rivals: Arkansas 312 miles, Vanderbilt 431, Kentucky 457, Ole Miss 477, Mississippi State 575, Tennessee 609, Alabama 618, Georgia 736, LSU 772, Texas A&M 779, South Carolina 870, Florida 1,008.)  In addition, reports from the Show-Me State claim that Mizzou officials don’t have a preference regarding their placement.  At first blush, this one doesn’t seem to make sense.  But the more one studies this plan, the more obvious it becomes that moving Missouri to the East is the simplest solution to the SEC’s realignment problem.

Why not do this:  Because it doesn’t look right on a map.  Also, because it would prevent Missouri from playing either Arkansas — a border state that also needs a rival — or Texas A&M — a key to MU recruiting — every year.  Competitive balance would be thrown off a bit, but only because the league’s all-time seventh- and eighth-winningest programs (Texas A&M and Arkansas) would reside in the West.  So even on the competitive balance front, you’re still looking at a 3-3 split among the traditional “big six” of the SEC.

Verdict:  Color us convinced.  The driving distances are key.  While it would seem the Tigers would be much farther away from East Division schools than West Division schools, that’s just not the case.  Only South Carolina and Florida would be a greater distance from Columbia than Missouri’s old Big 8 and Big 12 North rival Colorado (747 miles).  And when you look at the impact this move would have on the SEC’s oldest rivalries — which is to say none — it’s even more of an obvious choice.  This appears to be the path of least resistance.

 

Realignment Option 3 — Mississippi State to the SEC East

SEC West   SEC East
Alabama   Florida
Arkansas   Georgia
Auburn   Kentucky
LSU   Miss. State
Missouri   S. Carolina
Ole Miss   Tennessee
Texas A&M   Vanderbilt

 

If the SEC uses an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format, these old rivalries will not be played:  Auburn-Florida (not played now), Alabama-Vanderbilt (not played now), Alabama-Georgia (not played now), Ole Miss-Tennessee (not played now), LSU-Mississippi State, Alabama-Mississippi State, Auburn-Mississippi State, and Ole Miss-Vanderbilt.

Old rivalries reborn with an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format:  None.

Current permanent cross-divisional rivals affected:  If MSU were to move to the SEC East, their cross-divisional rivalry with Kentucky would be killed in order for MSU to play Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, the SEC’s second-oldest rivalry.  For Ole Miss to clear room for MSU as its permanent cross-divisional foe, the Rebels would have to give up their rivalry with Vanderbilt, the 10th-oldest rivalry in the SEC.  That would leave Kentucky and Vanderbilt to pick up Missouri (probably Kentucky) and Texas A&M as their annual cross-divisional rivals.

Competitive balance:  Five of the league’s all-time winningest programs would be in the SEC West while only three would reside in the SEC East.  More importantly the three least successful programs in SEC history would all be in one division.

Why do this:  Because to some Tennessee and Alabama fans posting on messageboards, the rivalries of Mississippi, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt apparently don’t mean a whole lot.  We’ve seen this idea floated more than once and we’ve even had it emailed to us a time or two.  But it’s not going to happen.  Even if it would insure that the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry would survive.

Why not do this:  Mississippi State is actually a participant in four of the SEC’s 11 most often played rivalry games.  And while the Egg Bowl (107 meetings) might be saved, the Bulldogs’ games with LSU (104), Alabama (95) and Auburn (84) would be lost.  In the process, the Vandy-Ole Miss rivalry (85) would be killed as well.  That’s four longstanding rivalries down the drain.  Plus, the three teams at the bottom of the SEC’s all-time standings — MSU, Kentucky and Vandy — would all be placed in the East Division.

Verdict:  No way, no how.  The SEC’s presidents won’t even consider this.

 

Realignment Option 4 — Alabama and Auburn to the SEC East, Vanderbilt to the SEC West

SEC West   SEC East
Arkansas   Alabama
LSU   Auburn
Miss. State   Florida
Missouri   Georgia
Ole Miss   Kentucky
Texas A&M   S. Carolina
Vanderbilt   Tennessee

 

If the SEC uses an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format, these old rivalries will not be played:  Auburn-Florida (not played now), Alabama-Vanderbilt (not played now), Alabama-Georgia (not played now), Ole Miss-Tennessee (not played now), Auburn-Mississippi State, Kentucky-Vanderbilt, Alabama-LSU, and Georgia-Vanderbilt.

Old rivalries reborn with an 8-game schedule, 6-1-1 format:  Auburn-Florida (not played now), Alabama-Georgia (not played now)

Current permanent cross-divisional rivals affected:  This would require more moves than a Rubik’s Cube.  In order to protect as many old SEC rivalries as possible, one scenario for cross-divisional rivalries might look like this — Alabama-Mississippi State, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Florida-LSU (continue playing), Arkansas-South Carolina (continue playing), and then Auburn, Georgia and Kentucky from the East would pair up in some fashion with Missouri, Ole Miss and Texas A&M from the West.  Incredibly messy.

Competitive balance:  Five of the league’s all-time winningest programs would be in the SEC East while only three would reside in the SEC West.

Why do this:  Once again, the goal seems to be saving the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry at all costs.  Other than that, two old rivalries would be restored as divisional games (Auburn-Florida and Alabama-Georgia).  But…

Why not do this:  There would be four other old rivalries lost.  Such a plan would also require way too many shifts and changes to gain approval from the league’s presidents.  The more changes required, the greater the possibility for hold-ups and hang-ups.

Verdict:  The Southeastern Conference will most likely want to move as few teams as possible.  But this plan would require three programs to shift divisions.  Rivalries would be lost.  And five of the six winningest programs in league history would all be placed in the East Division.  Sorry to those who dreamed this one up, but there’s not a chance this comes to pass.

 

We’ll not even bother with discussing radical format changes — like the creation of North and South Divisions.  It may look good on paper, but the SEC won’t want to completely shake up the good thing it’s currently got going.  The goal is to add Texas A&M and Missouri with as little fuss and muss as possible.  Moving Auburn to the SEC East would require only one current school to shift and only two traditional rivalries would be killed (Auburn-Mississippi State and Alabama-Tennessee).  Even better, placing Missouri in the East Division wouldn’t require any current SEC school to move.  And not a single classic rivalry would be lost.

For that reason, it’s our bet that Missouri will find itself in the SEC East if/when it finally comes aboard.  As we discussed in Part One of this series, we also expect the SEC to eventually go to a nine-game conference schedule featuring a 6-1-2 format in order for cross-divisional foes to face each other more often.

Therefore, the simplest long-term solution — if/when Missouri becomes the SEC’s 14th school — would look like this:

SEC West   SEC East
Alabama   Florida
Arkansas   Georgia
Auburn   Kentucky
LSU   Missouri
Miss. State   S. Carolina
Ole Miss   Tennessee
Texas A&M   Vanderbilt

 

With a nine-game league schedule and a 6-1-2 format, the annual breakdown of opponents for each team would look like this (abbreviations: Div = Annual Division Rival,  Perm C-Div = Permanent Cross-Divisional Rival,  Rot C-Div = Rotating Cross-Divisional Rival):

Div Div Div Div Div Div Perm C-Div  Rot C-Div  Rot C-Div
SEC WEST
Alabama  Arkansas  Auburn  LSU  MSU  Ole Miss  Texas A&M  Tennessee  UF, UGA, UK  MU, SC, VU
Arkansas  Alabama  Auburn  LSU  MSU  Ole Miss  Texas A&M  S. Carolina  UF, UGA, UK  MU, UT, VU
Auburn  Alabama  Arkansas  LSU  MSU  Ole Miss  Texas A&M  Georgia  UF, UK, MU  SC, UT, VU
LSU  Alabama  Arkansas  Auburn  MSU  Ole Miss  Texas A&M  Florida  UGA, UK, MU  SC, UT, VU
Miss. State  Alabama  Arkansas  Auburn  LSU  Ole Miss  Texas A&M  Kentucky  UF, UGA, MU  SC, UT, VU
Ole Miss  Alabama  Arkansas  Auburn  LSU  MSU  Texas A&M  Vanderbilt  UF, UGA, UK  MU, SC, UT
Texas A&M  Alabama  Arkansas  Auburn  LSU  MSU  Ole Miss  Missouri  UF, UGA, UK  SC, UT, VU
SEC EAST
Florida  Georgia  Kentucky  Missouri  S. Carolina  Tennessee  Vanderbilt  LSU  ALA, ARK, AUB  MSU, UM, A&M
Georgia  Florida  Kentucky  Missouri  S. Carolina  Tennessee  Vanderbilt  Auburn  ALA, ARK, LSU  MSU, UM, A&M
Kentucky  Florida  Georgia  Missouri  S. Carolina  Tennessee  Vanderbilt  MSU  ALA, ARK, AUB  LSU, UM, A&M
Missouri  Florida  Georgia  Kentucky  S. Carolina  Tennessee  Vanderbilt  Texas A&M  ALA, ARK, AUB  LSU, MSU, UM
S. Carolina  Florida  Georgia  Kentucky  Missouri  Tennessee  Vanderbilt  Arkansas  ALA, AUB, LSU  MSU, UM, A&M
Tennessee  Florida  Georgia  Kentucky  Missouri  S. Carolina  Vanderbilt  Alabama  ARK, AUB, LSU  MSU, UM, A&M
Vanderbilt  Florida  Georgia  Kentucky  Missouri  S. Carolina  Tennessee  Ole Miss  ALA, ARK, AUB  LSU, MSU, A&M

 

(Sidenote — You’ll notice that we assigned Texas A&M and Missouri as permanent cross-divisional rivals.  That’s a coin flip.  Judging from the comments on this site as well as from emails from Missouri fans, Arkansas makes sense to some because of proximity while A&M makes sense to others because of recruiting.  It would likely be up to Missouri, Arkansas, South Carolina and A&M to decide who pairs up with one another.  We think Tiger football coach Gary Pinkel would request A&M.

Also, seeing as how we had to re-type a good chunk of this after midnight, here’s hoping you’ll take it easy on us when you find a typo or miscue.)

 


116 comments
brian
brian

Looks like it will be the SEC East and Texas A&M as the cross-division rival for Mizzou. Sounds good to this Tiger.

Stringfellow716
Stringfellow716

John, I have been thinking about this realignment issue. What do you think about this arrangement: Why not have Mizzou in the west so it can have a natural rivalry with Arkansas and continue to recruit in Texas by keeping its game with A&M? Move Auburn to the East. Keep a 6-1-1 format, but make a special rule for 'Bama. All other SEC schools have only one permanent cross-rivalry, except 'Bama and it has AU and UT. Since it wants to keep the 3rd Saturday in October, let them ... just eliminate one of their out of conference games. Everyone else keeps the same format.

auburnstayswest
auburnstayswest

also, Mizzou and TAM should be given the least amount of regard in this situation, they wanted to join us, they acknowledge SEC as better competition, don't come messin it all up, option 2 is the best

auburnstayswest
auburnstayswest

speaking for as an Auburn fan, the MAJORITY of people at AU really don't care very much about the AU MSU game, until this board i never even heard it referred to as a rivalry, most AU fans would rather keep LSU AU intact than MSU AU, many would rather LSU AU over AU FL even

Matt
Matt

As a Missouri fan I am perfectly fine with playing in the East because anything is good that gets us out of the Texas conference, but we do want to play Arky each year as our cross div. opponent. NOT A&M

yeshellyes
yeshellyes

Two cents from an Ag regarding rivalries: the world won't end if they do. We're losing our whorns game which we've played 117 times: 3 games longer than the oldest SEC rivalry. Mizzou will lose Kansas, not just a team they hate but a state they've hated literally since the Civil War. Don't forget OU & NU stopped playing annually when the B12 formed. I hate to see rivalries end as much as anyone but don't the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

oksana
oksana

Georgia would have to pick Florida. the game in Jackson ville is such a huge money maker - -much more than a normal home game - -that the Auburn/Georgia game would be lost.

John Blair
John Blair

I said it once and I will say it again. Bring MO into the east but then switch AR and FL. the SEC east then becomes the SEC north. The SEC west becomes the SEC south. AL rivalries with AUburn and TN are protected (since it is all about pleasing the spoiled fans of Tuscaloosa. The only troubled team in that scenario is GA. The must pick between AU and Florida. THis NEEDS to happen.

JIM BEAN
JIM BEAN

Here are the driving distances per google maps in order

Ark 5.5 hours
Vandy 7.4 hours
Ole Miss 7.4 hours
UK 7.6 hours
Miss St 9.4 hours
UT 10.1 hours
Bama 10.4 hours
LSU 12.2 hours
UGA 12.4 hours
Auburn 12.5 hours
TexA&M 13.3 hours
USC 14.4 hours
FLA 17.2 hours

Seems that its a long way from everybody no matter what. If you put Missouri in the East with Arkansas as its cross rival, then 3 of the 4 shortest roadtrips road trips are on the schedule every year.

I think schools that have won "recent memory" national championships (Alabama Florida LSU Auburn Tennessee Georgia) are the six traditional powers that should be split in conference alignment. TexasA&M Ark USC Missouri are a step below. I think any split that disproportianately separates those top six schools alters the balance of power significantly.

stringfellow
stringfellow

The only alignment that makes any sense is one that would allow Mizzou to play Arkansas and A&M annually. This is critical. Why? Because so many of Mizzou's players come from Texas. To keep that pipeline going, Mizzou has to play against A&M. Further, Mizzou needs to play Arkansas annually because U of A would be (from the standpoint of geography) Mizzou's only natural rival in SEC.

If I were Silve, I would call a meeting with 'Bama's president and AD. In this meeting I would point out that the thing that distinguishes the SEC from every other conference is it is like a family. That's why the league has no exit fees. That is also why the league treats the least of its members from an athletic standpoint the same as its most important members. And it is also why it is the best football conference in America and the most successful conference in America. Then I would say something to the Alabama contingent approximating the following: "You Alabama guys have it made. You have all this success. You have all these hotly contested rivalries. Heck, whenever any SEC school plays you, it is a major event. So look, here we have a new member. We need that new member to thrive. If this new member, Mizzou, thrives it will make our conference stronger and we will all be better for it. Now look, it does not any good for Mizzou to come into the conference and die on the vine as a competitor. To insure the school gets its best shot at being successful in the SEC, two things must happen. First, Mizzou has to play A&M ever year. It has to do that to keep its Texas connection going because it has a preexisting recruiting pipeline into that state that is essential to the program. Second, Mizzou needs a big natural rival, where tens of thousands of Mizzou fans can travel just a few hours and make the game. The only school that fits that bill is Arkansas. So it is absolutely imperative that Mizzou play those two schools every year. Alabama, I ask that you see how important this is. Mizzou's situation is so drastically different from your's as you have five SEC schools within just hours of your doorstep, Now to give Mizzou its best shot at being successful and a happy member of our great conference, I am going to ask you to make a little sacrifice. Give up the game against UT as your permanent cross division rival. Other schools have done this for the betterment of the conference, and I ask you to do the same. And really Alabama, what a way to welcome a new family member: that you would give up one of your biggest rivalries just to insure that your new family member was put into a situation where it would have its best chance for success and for feeling fully integrated into our league. Its the right thing to do. Surely Mizzou realizes that you are one of the big fishes of the SEC and what an indication that we are 180 degrees different from the Big 12 if we approached this this way. No way you would see Texas make that kind of sacrifice for the betterment of the whole."

I believed if Silve pitched it that way, 'Bama would give up the annual game against UT so AU could move to the East. If not, he could put "Bama on the bubble and say, "okay 'Bama, if you insist on the annual game with UT, we will have two permanent cross-division rivals. But that is a very selfish move because it will mean that some cross division teams will only see each other once every six years ... just so you can play the Vols annually." I do not see 'Bama being so selfish, and I see them agreeing to keep Mizzou in the same division as Arkansas and A&M (that is, the West). Plus Silve could throw in a carrot. Tell them that A&M's permanent rival will be SC. So let AU have greater access to GA and FL. It will have less access to the Lone Star State in the East, and access that that State trumps all. Plus, Texas recruits will be less interest in SC because it is so much further away than other Eastern schools. This will give 'Bama a greater advantage in its recruiting efforts in Texas.

Mike
Mike

As an Ag I'll tell you one of the Big 12's key fatal mistakes was breaking up the OU-Nebraska game. Conference probably would be still intact if they hadn't done that (so thank God they did!). OU was down at the time like Tenn is now. Don't go down that road.

I'm hoping Mizzou to the East, with Arkansas as their C-Div. Makes perfect sense for everyone, and it will quickly develop into a great natural rivalry - Battle of the Ozarks. Ags would be happy to take FL if LSU wants to let go of that, or SC.

Fwiw, remember that A&M doesn't have a long history with Mizzou, we didn't play every year in B12, and have only played them 9 times in the past 50 years, 11 total in our history... as compared with LSU 50 times, Ark 68 times. So while I think Mizzou is a good SEC add in general, don't over inflate the Big 12 connections or wishes to tap Texas recruits as a reason to Mizzou-A&M's C-Div. We're all trying to just forget about the Big 12 anyway.

deltaboy
deltaboy

Option 2 clearly makes the most sense because it is the least disruptive. The only change I would make would be to make Arkansas-Missouri & USC-Texas A & M permanent cross-divisional rivals.

Ark. & Mo.really do need to play each other every year. There is potential there to develop a great rivalry. Missouri's "need" to play A & M annually so that they can potentially recruit better in Texas just isn't compelling enough. Remember, they're asking to join. They say they will be happy in either division. Things will go a lot more smoothly with Mo. in the East. Fewer existing rivalries will be disrupted; they are a better "cultural fit" with Vandy, UT, & UK [a large portion of Missouri was settled by Tennesseans & Kentuckians]; & except for Florida & USC, travel won't be that much different.

Forest Foxx
Forest Foxx

Personally, I'd prefer 15 teams with three divisions and a 4-2x(1-1) format, with one rival and one rotating opponent in each division.

SEC West: Texas A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, LSU, Ole Miss
SEC Central: Miss State, Alabama, Tenn, Vandy Kentucky
SEC South: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and NCSU or VT.

Then you can either have two SEC owned bowls leading into the championship game in rotating cities, or a championship game and runner-up game with the possibility of the the two winners in the same BCS bowl, possibly (though unlikely) for the National Championship. In either case, the 3 division champions play with one wild card to compensate for unbalanced divisions.

Forest Foxx
Forest Foxx

Another option: Auburn to the East, Mizzou to the West, 6-2-1 format for Alabama (AU, UT) and Auburn (UA, MSU), and 6-1-1 for everyone else. The rotation schedule is complicated, but it does work. It would mean that AU and UA would see non-rival cross division opponents twice every ten years (using home-home format), Tenn and MSU would see cross division rivals 10 out of every 30 years, and the rest of the teams would play cross-division rotating teams 22 out of every sixty years (11/30). (That fraction may seem absurd at first glance, but it just reflects that the rotation period varies between 5 and 6 years based on when the rotation with Auburn or Alabama falls.) It's complicated, but it does work and it maintains all rivalries, brings back one (Auburn-Florida, which is 83 games now), and makes geographic sense. And who really needs to know exactly how the rotation works outside of the home office? The games are scheduled years out, so everyone else can just look at the future schedules, which is exactly what they do now anyway.

Jamie Thornton
Jamie Thornton

THe way things are going in college sports, will it be that long before the sec goes to 16? I mean, it just takes an NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, exc to knock on the door. When Mizzou comes to the sec, things are still going to be going on. Reprots this morning are the Big 12 will take WVU to replace Mizzou. But will they stop there? Will they grab Louisville and BYU? IF that happens, that might have the ACC going after UCONN and Rutgers. The point being that when the SEC goes to 16 at sometime, Mizzou can be moved back to the west. If you think having MIzzou in the east is so bad, just check out how the ACC has it's schools in two divisions.

Daddyrich
Daddyrich

Let's play 10 conference games and have the NCAA allow 13 regular season games. Then my favorite sport can go even longer! Surely, all rivalries can be preserved then.

Greg
Greg

I find it strange that whom Mizzou gets as a rival gets more play than whom A&M gets. (The rest of this assumes Mizzou to the east, since that's the most likely to occur, IMO.) If Mizzou & Ark are paired up, that means A&M & SC become rivals. How is that good for anyone?

SC: Spurrier has already said he's not concerned about picking up recruits in TX, so I don't see it helping SC much. They may not have a long history with Ark, but it's still longer than the one they have with A&M.
A&M: complete "meh" in every way.

On the other hand, Mizzou & A&M as rivals preserves their (short) history in the Big 12, gives Mizzou some recruiting in Texas, and continues the (short-ish) Ark-SC rivalry. I certainly think that (Ark-SC + Mizzou-A&M) > (Mizzou-Ark + A&M-SC). Mizzou-Ark would be nice, but it doesn't add more than A&M-SC takes away.

fratlawyer
fratlawyer

I propose that the conference consider a general realignment of the conference’s divisions, maintaining the format in which schools would play each of the other teams in their division plus one permanent cross-divisional rival. The new divisions would be as follows:
Division One:
Alabama (Cross-division rival – LSU)
Auburn (Cross-division rival – Georgia)
Kentucky (Cross-division rival – Mississippi State)
Missouri (Cross-division rival – Arkansas)
South Carolina (Cross-division rival – Ole Miss)
Tennessee (Cross-division rival – Florida)
Vanderbilt (Cross-division rival – Texas A&M)

Division Two:
Arkansas (Cross-division rival – Missouri)
Florida (Cross-division rival – Tennessee)
Georgia (Cross-division rival – Auburn)
LSU (Cross-division rival – Alabama)
Mississippi State (Cross-division rival – Kentucky)
Ole Miss (Cross-division rival – South Carolina)
Texas A&M (Cross-division rival – Vanderbilt)
This lineup is by no means perfect, but I believe it has a number of selling points: 1) It preserves almost every single important existing SEC rivalry; 2) it maintains a balance of power between the divisions; and 3) it creates immediate border rivalries to help integrate Texas A&M and (presumably) Missouri into the conference.

DanL
DanL

Jonmrsec,

First off, I enjoyed the article, a very nice explanation of everything. I have one question not discussed though: what about - instead of mississippi state - one were to look at the possibility of moving Ole Miss into the east.

(Although perhaps I understand the Miss St was an overall none of these work.)

Thanks

houstonvol
houstonvol

You have to remember that all of the powers to be feel 14 is just a 5-10 year stopping point and eventually the SEC would expand to 16 teams. That is one of the reasons Mizzou is looking to leave the B12 now. Yes the new Tier 1 and 2 contract will glue the conference together for 6 years, but what happens after that? Mizzou might not have a seat at the adult table the next go round and would be forced to join the MWC or CUSA. The B10 has already done the numbers and adding Mizzou will never be a net gain in revenue, which is what this is all about. So no one has to worry about Mizzou bolting the SEC in two years to join the B10. It will not happen. While Mizzou to the SEC does bring more money and markets. So Mizzou to the east would be a simple short term solution for the next 5-10 years until the B12 falls apart again and the SEC picks up 2 more schools to grow to 16. At that time Mizzou, Bama, and Burn can all be shifted into more geographic and balanced rivalries.

Keith
Keith

I like idea of moving Auburn and Ole Miss to the East, with Vandy and Mizzou going to the West...while the UT-BAMA, Ole Miss-LSU, UK-Vandy, Vandy-Ole Miss rivalries will be lost, it creates some pretty good ones in return: UT-Ole Miss, UT-Auburn, Auburn-Florida, Ole Miss - Georgia, Ole Miss-Kentucky, Mizzou-Arkansas, Mizzou-Vandy, Mizzou-Kentucky.

SEC WEST Perm Rival
Alabama Auburn 
Arkansas S. Carolina 
LSU Florida
Missouri Kentucky 
Miss. State Ole Miss
Texas A&M Georgia
Vanderbilt Tennessee

SEC EASTPerm Rival
AuburnAlabama
FloridaLSU
GeorgiaTexas A&M
KentuckyMissouri
Ole MissMiss. St
S. CarolinaArkansas
TennesseeVanderbilt

Allowing Mizzou to be in its natural West position seems to make sense. However, if the SEC does plan to expand to 16 in near future, then Mizzou probably needs to go to the East now, and then be prepared to shift West once the two new teams are added...altho, Mizzou curators may not like to hear that they'll need to shift divisions (from West to East) in the near future...and that might be what's holding them up in announcing now

Tiger Tracker
Tiger Tracker

Auburn has already "paid" more than any other school in terms of giving up traditional, enjoyable rivalries for the good of the conference. Auburn lost its annual game with UT (which would have been over 60 by now if it hadn't been lost) and then its historical rivalry with UF. If Auburn hadn't made these sacrifices 20 years ago, its rivalries with these two schools would be deemed just as important as some of the other rivalries that various teams are trying to protect now. Devaluing AU/UT and AU/UF because they're not currently being played, or because those games have been played fewer times than some others (because Auburn went along with being separated from its traditional and natural rivals) is not fair to the schools that have already sacrificed. If Auburn was asked to "give" for the common good 20 years ago, it's only fair that Auburn be given some consideration in this realignment in order to try and restore some of what it lost last time around. It's time for another school to sacrifice for the common good.

In the end, this will probably be temporary anyway. In the event the league grows again, we'll go through this exercise all over again.

DV80
DV80

As an Aggie, I like Option 1, with us in the west and having Georgia or Tennessee as a cross division rival.

A&M to the east is a dog that won't hunt in College Station! It would be almost as bad of a travel nightmare as being in the PAC-12. Uhgg!!

I wouldn't mind having Florida as a cross division rival either. If Missouri has to be put in the east, having them as a cross division rival would be acceptable.

Whatever happens, A&M needs to be in the west with LSU and Arkansas.

Gig'Em!

Kobby
Kobby

The second option of Missouri to the east is the most likely outcome.

Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, Alabama-Auburn, Georgia-Florida, & Ole-Miss-Miss St. must all be protected. All other rivalries are on the table. Option 2 is the only one that keeps this intact. Sorry 'bout your luck Mizzou.

Charlie Bama
Charlie Bama

Mizzou in the east is ridiculous. As many readers are pointing out, geography does matter. Required weekly caravans of 900+ miles will not be very welcoming to Mizzou fans, nor very inviting in terms of travel to Columbia (the one in Missouri, of ocurse). Shove Auburn to the East with the other weaker teams and be done with it.

Milo Moon
Milo Moon

The only way that I would accept losing the Bama/UT game is if we played A&M every year. It would help our Texas recruiting and allow me to see my Vols every other year.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

Fans having to travel from East Texas to Georgia, Florida, South Carolina may not agree. Average distance from College Station for those three matchups: 1001 miles.

fifthoffive
fifthoffive

I think the conference should just start over, not try to kludge together something from the current alignments.

A. Texas A&M, LSU, MSU, Auburn, Vandy, South Carolina, Florida
B. Missouri, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Alabama, UT, UK, Georgia

Play a 6-1-1 schedule with MSU-Ole Miss, Auburn-Alabama, Vandy-UT, Florida-Georgia, Texas A&M-Arkansas, LSU-Missouri, South Carolina-UK as the annual rivalry games.

The balance of power would be about right, and you keep a lot of the natural rivalries.

Willie!T
Willie!T

Well MrSEC, since you were typing well after midnight, I won't slam all the obvious errors in your post. I'm sure once you re-read it, you can clean it up.

You are probably right about Mizzou to the East. Given the lack of creativity, lack of vision, general conservative nature of the leadership within the SEC, and quite frankly the missing kahunas of Mike Slive, the only reasonable solution is to put the Tigers in the East.

The only reason this doesn't work is competitive balance.

Now, let me propose one move you didn't mention. It will affect a couple of cross-divisional rivals, but it protects most all the long-lived rivalries played today.

Texas A&M to the East.

Breakdown would be as follows,

SEC West SEC East
Alabama Tennessee
Arkansas Texas A&M
Auburn Georgia
LSU Florida
Miss. State S. Carolina
Missouri Kentucky
Ole Miss Vanderbilt

The above also gives you the cross divisional pairing with A&M pairing with Arkansas. USC would give up Arky and Kentucky would switch to Mizzou, leaving USC- Miss St as a newly created cross-divisional game.

This would be a bit more disruptive, but it provides competitive balance. A&M get's to keep/restore an old SWC rivalry with Arky. The downside is the travel distance. For football fans, I'm betting that's not that big of an issue. Most every SEC school travels well for football. Since Basketball dropped divisions, it's not an issue. If the non-revenue sports drop divisions, it's a non issue.

The biggest downside to my proposal is recruiting Texas. Arky would get a leg up on the rest of the West and I'm not so sure Georgia, Tennessee & Kentucky would benefit as much as say LSU, & the Mississippi schools would with A&M in the West.

auburnstayswest
auburnstayswest

yes but you are losing rivalries by your choice and leaving your conference, long standing and historied SEC teams should not have to be affected because you are joining, Mizzou and A&M chose to join, so they can be burdened the most

Stringfellow
Stringfellow

"Recent memory" championships? Georgia in 1980??? UT in the Payton Manning days of the 90's. That was almost an eternity ago in football. If we are looking at recent years, say the last eight, I would put Mizzou as equal to those two in quality. For that matter, in the last few years TAMU would have a 50/50 shot at beating both those schools. Maybe a rearrangement would alter the balance of power in the SEC, but with all due respect as far as those two schools are concerned it would not be the power we talk about on the football field. They have been down for a while now, especially UT. If we are talking about the four schools that have really counted in the last decade in the SEC they are: LSU, 'Bama, AU and Florida.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I agree. It would probably be easier for Mizzou to maintain ties in Texas if they play A&M every year, but they will get annual games against Florida and Georgia and there are tons of recruits there as well. In fact, there are more recruits on average in almost all of the SEC states than there are in the old Big 8 states. Mizzou will have a much larger recruiting base overall no matter what division they are in even though the recruits will come from more places rather than simply coming from Texas and Missouri primarily. And Mizzou will also be able to snag some players out of Illinois as well that they might not have gotten otherwise because of the lure of SEC play.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

It doesn't really matter who A&M gets out of the East because A&M has no real history with any of those teams. The 2 teams they want to play are Arkansas and LSU and both of those team are in the West. Whoever they get in the East is just an academic matter.

rmft
rmft

Allowing Mizzou to be in its natural West position seems to make sense

------------

SEC is concerned with keeping bigtime rivalries and traditions alive

Not scrapping those great games that built the SEC to make sure Missouri gets to play all the teams its closest to makes ZERO sense. Missouri is gonna be an SEC bottom dweller, so its kind of insane to think the SEC would go out of its way to scrap games between its all time biggest programs in favor of making sure missouri gets to play all the teams its wants to. Missouri is lucky to be in the SEC, they should be thankful and go wherever they cause the least problems. Welcome to the SEC missouri, but you are at the bottom of the totem pole and the teams who have been here for 75 years are gonna have a bigger voice than you for a long time

oksana
oksana

If you flip-flop Tennessee and Vanderbilt you can save the Ala/Tenn rivalry. Otherwise, you are brilliant.

Forest Foxx
Forest Foxx

It's not just Auburn that has paid the price; Auburn was Florida's longest rival at the time, so Florida paid as well. If we must have a simplistic solution, let Bama and Tenn sacrifice until the SEC moves to 15 or 16, when it can be re-established. As an alternative, see my other post about Auburn and Alabama having two rivals and everyone else having one. It's complicated, but it works, and who really needs to know exactly how the rotation schedule works outside of the home office.

Forest Foxx
Forest Foxx

That will happen in any case. No worries. Look forward to A&M joining the fray!

rmft
rmft

slow your roll Aggie

last time I checked ya'll aren't even in the conference yet. You should go where we put you (which will be the west) and say thanks for getting you away from Big Bro Texas

If you dont like it, you are welcome to go back to the Longhorn Network Conference

rmft
rmft

They have GREAT luck in my opinion

they are LUCKY to be getting into the best conference in the world. They should be happy to be in either division, and do whats best not to screw up the great things that have made the SEC what it is today

rmft
rmft

Missouri in the SOUTH EASTERN CONFERENCE is ridiculous... if you want to argue over geography, mizzou shouldn't even be allowed into the SEC

Not to mention Missouri fans dont travel to games no matter where they are. They aren't gonna make a 90 mile trip, so it really doesn't matter how far away they have to go, the "fans" are staying home regardless

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Charlie Bama...

I guess you didn't read the part showing that four of Missouri's eight closest SEC rivals would be located in the East (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia).

Thanks for commenting,
John

rmft
rmft

it would kill Tennessee's recruiting in Alabama

although some say Saban did that 4 years ago... but traditionally Alabama has been a big base for UT recruiting

a&mfan
a&mfan

Would going to Texas every other year really help recruiting there?

rmft
rmft

A&M couldn't sell out their allotment of tickets to the Arkansas game in Dallas

No matter where the Aggies have to travel to, it seems there wont be many fans making the trip... so I dont think this should be a huge concern. Same with Missouri, neither of those schools really travel for games no matter where they are, so its kind of a moot point

DV80
DV80

That dog won't hunt!

Gig'Em!

Milo Moon
Milo Moon

There is one rivalry that is not mentioned in the article or the posts; LSU/A&M. The game has been played over 50 times, but did not break the 60 game threshold used by Mr SEC. I can promise you that my Aggie friends are looking forward to this game more than anything. LSU/A&M is the game that is replacing tu in their eyes. They even hope for a post thanksgiving game, but I have had to be a wet blanket for them on that. The next game that Aggies are looking forward to is Bama. There is already chatter about making a Bear Bryant or Bryant-Stallings trophy for the game. The last game that A&M wants to play as often as possible is Tennessee. While I would love a UT/A&M game each year, then only way for that to happen is for Tennessee to lose Bama.

Stringfellow716
Stringfellow716

Well, auburnstayswest, in all due respect, I would say this is selfish, Longhornique thinking. The SEC has always prided itself on an all-for-one and one-for-all mentality. That is why it is the most successful conference in college football. So, the league should be looking at it from the standpoint of what alignment will best allow for the programs as a whole in the SEC to thrive. This would include looking at such factors as travel distances and historical recruitment grounds. The idea is to have an alignment that allows for each program to become as strong as possible so long as that is not done at the expense of zapping the strength of another SEC program. That should be the goal. If historical rivalries match that goal, fine. If not, then there should be no sacred cows in terms of rivalries.

DV80
DV80

Thanks! I'm looking forward to it as well.

Gig'Em!

DV80
DV80

Thanks for the reply. You're right. I did get carried away in expressing myself. I apologize for the offense. I am MEGA thankful for the SEC invite. Y'all have been very gracious in welcoming us. I am thankful for that as well.

Some SEC fans have posted on our sites asking about our preferences as to cross division rival and such. I have seen some posts blasting some fans of non-SEC schools for lack of passion in their comments.

I'm sorry for expressing my passion in an arrogant manner.

Thanks for your patience.

Gig'Em!

houstonvol
houstonvol

we already recruit the state, and usually pick off one or two kids a year. So I don't know. I think it would because the kid would play 2 times at least in Texas during their career. However it is a minor issue. If a kid is looking to get out of texas to play at another school, having games back in the state will not be that much of a concern. If it was important to him/her, then any of the SEC west schools would be ahead of TN on the recruiting scale.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I think putting the LSU/A&M game on Thanksgiving weekend along with all the other big rivalries makes the most sense. You can play Arkansas and Missouri on the same weekend. That's a lot of great new games for that week and I'm already planning my TV watching schedule just thinking about it.

The Arkansas/LSU game would still be played, but you can move it to a midseason game. The Arky/LSU game is big, but not really seen as THE rivalry game by both fan bases.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Milo Moon...

It wasn't mentioned because there is no way LSU and Texas A&M won't be in the same division. It's a non-issue. That game will be good to go.

Thanks for reading,
John

DV80
DV80

About the A&M/LSU rivalry, you got that right! But I think you are dead wrong about us not wanting to play the Vols.

Gig'Em!

houstonvol
houstonvol

It was in response to his divisional line ups above. He did not have the A&m/LSU game. I can promise you that if A&M had a choice between Ark and LSU as a permanent cross divisional line up that they would be fighting for LSU over Ark. It is a moot point anyways because Mizzou will be slotted to the east, and given a preference of choice in cross division team in football of either Ark or A&M since they will not be slotted in their preferred division in the west.

houstonvol
houstonvol

My aggie friends want to play TN. Playing TN excites them as much as playing Bama and Ark. LSU/A&M is on another level to them.

DV80
DV80

Milo, maybe I misread your intent about A&M wanting to play Tennessee. If you mean we would want to play them, then you are right. If not, I stand by my previous post.

Gig'Em!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] SEC Realignment And Schedule Options The league’s goal will no doubt be to protect as many traditional rivalries as possible [...]

  2. [...] have been played at least 60 times — is to place Missouri in the SEC’s East Division.We discuss that option and several others in great detail here.That is assuming, of course, that MU announces shortly that it wants to leave the Big 12 for the [...]

  3. [...] 1. SEC Realignment And Scheduling Options – Part Three. Check out Parts One and Two on our Blue Chip Stories page. [...]

  4. [...] (Surprising fact: Of the eight schools closest to Columbia, four are in the East Division).  As we explained here in great detail, we have been told that the SEC wants as easy a transition as possible and MU to the East protects [...]

  5. [...] or Friday).2.  The Tigers will be slotted in the SEC East.  (The why is something we also covered here on Friday.)3.  And we stand by our view that the SEC will eventually go to a nine-game league [...]

  6. [...] that Missouri will definitely land in the SEC East because that is the simplest solution available (as we broke down in detail here).  Since we wrote that, several other outlets have gone from calling Mizzou-to-the-East a [...]

  7. [...] you’re wondering what divisional alignments and schedules might look like in a 14-team SEC, click here.If you’re wondering how Missouri and Texas A&M are keeping pace with the SEC in terms of [...]

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  9. [...] sources that the goal was to add Texas A&M and Missouri with as little fuss as possible.  As we explained in this piece, placing Missouri in the East is the path of least resistance as it will allow all of the [...]

  10. [...] interested only in an eight-game conference schedule for 2012 and beyond.But on October 20th and 21st, we pointed out that the SEC would likely have to move to a nine-game league schedule once it [...]

  11. [...] presidents probably need a bit more coaxing and cajoling when it comes to a nine-game schedule.But as we pointed out here, the most likely path for a 14-team SEC is one that leads to a nine-game schedule.  Unless the [...]

  12. [...] lines is ridiculous.Pastides opened his mouth on what most see as the obvious long-term fix.  (We broke it down way back in October and explained why a nine-game schedule would be the best option.)But coaches and ADs are against the [...]

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