Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Permanent Rivalry Solutions

So it looks like the SEC could be adding Missouri any day now. I'll believe it when I see it, but if it does occur, that means one of two things can happen: Mizzou can buck geography and join the SEC East and balance things numerically, or Mizzou can join the SEC West while Auburn moves to the SEC East.

With any 14 team conference, it is fairly obvious that the conference schedule will inlcude 9 games - 6 divisional, 3 interdivisional. The only monkeywrench in the plan are the SEC's permanent rivalries. These are interdivisional rivalry games played every year, and they are (or have become) very important. Each team used to have two of these every year, but that made rotating through the rest of the other division a long term process. I like the one-permanent, two rotating interdivisional game model.

Right now, the biggest of the permanent rivalries are Auburn-Georgia, Alabama-Tennessee, and Florida-LSU. Lost to this format was Auburn-Tennessee and Auburn-Florida. While moving Auburn to the East would reestablish some very big rivalries, what happens to Auburn-Alabama? If the schools rearrange their permanent rivalry game to play the Iron Bowl every year (one of the biggest rivalries in capital-s Sports), Alabama and Tennesse lose the 3rd Saturday in October.

And this is the SEC, so it ain't like we can take that lightly.

There's a way around that, without forcing Mizzou into a geography-bending Eastern division. Auburn should move to the east, and Alabama gets 2 permanent interdivisional rivals. The balance would be that some team from the West has to give up all permanent rivals to make this happen. Who would it be? Probably Mizzou.

Alabama - Auburn, Tennessee
Arkansas - South Carolina
LSU - Florida
Ole Miss/Miss State - Vandy/Kentucky (don't really know which is which)
Missouri - ??
Texas A&M - Georgia

I'm assuming two things: Georgia will likely try to pick up TAMU because playing in Texas every other year may help with recruiting, and I think TAMU would pick UGA for the same reasons. Georgia also has an open permanent rivalry spot if Auburn joins the SEC East, and they end up playing every year anyway. But also, as the most geographically far flung member of the conference, Mizzou will need a crash course in SEC football, and what better way to introduce them to it than to play as many different SEC East teams as possible? It also gives them something unique with membership.



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