Auburn’s push East, or throwing good money after bad

I won’t say it rises to the level of pure shock, but I am a little startled to find Pat Dye’s suggestion that Auburn should be allowed to change divisions turns out not to be just a casual thought tossed out there, but a stalking horse for what the athletic department wants.

The idea of Auburn moving divisions for football apparently isn’t that farfetched.

Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs indicated on Wednesday that he would like to begin a dialogue with other members of the Southeastern Conference that could send his school to the SEC East. Speaking with reporters at the 2017 SEC spring meetings at the Sandestin Hilton, Jacobs said SEC officials and athletics directors will meet later this year to discuss scheduling, and that “everything will be on the table.”

That includes, theoretically, eliminating divisions to help ensure a team from the SEC is selected for the College Football Playoff every year. Currently, the winners of the SEC East and West meet in Atlanta for the SEC championship game. There have been informal talks about adding an extra SEC game to regular season schedules, scrapping the divisional format and pitting the top teams in the conference against each other at the end of the season.

“I think all that would be on the table when we talk about football,” Jacobs said. “Because when we established the SEC championship, the NCAA rules were you had to have two divisions. Well, that’s no longer the case.”

For the past three years at SEC spring meetings there have been rumblings of Auburn wanting to move to the East. While SEC commissioner Greg Sankey seemed to shoot down the idea Tuesday, the drumbeat is getting louder. Earlier in the day, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Auburn moving to the East was “common sense.”

If, by “common sense” you mean “we’re tired of Nick Saban blocking our path to the SECCG”, then sure.  But if you’re trying to make some tired argument based on geography, get out of here.  First of all, look at a map and you’ll find that Nashville lies west of Auburn.  If we’re going to be all about geographic order, why aren’t Jacobs and Malzahn asking for Alabama to accompany them Eastward and to ship the Commodores out West with Mizzou?  Secondly, if this is such an obvious thing, why didn’t Auburn raise holy hell about it when it was assigned to the SEC West way back when?

What’s really pissing me off isn’t so much that Auburn’s whining about this as that some ordinarily sensible people seem to be taking this as an overture to discuss conference realignment and the path to the SECCG.  Take this laughable bit from Andy Staples:

Perhaps Jacobs is playing the long game and hoping the SEC eventually moves to nine conference games, which would create the flexibility for the Auburn-to-the-East-Missouri-to-the-West arrangement. Among the league’s power brokers, Saban is the only person who has been a vocal proponent for this. The league’s TV partners would love it as well, but the majority of the decision-makers want to stay at eight. This also could be a idea the Tigers keep planting so it remains top of mind if the league winds up expanding should more radical realignment hit in the middle of the next decade when the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 media rights deals expire.

C’mon, man.  If Jacobs got his way and Auburn moved to the East, only to see the divisional balance of power shift in a few years (perhaps because of Saban’s retirement), would Staples or anyone else be even slightly surprised if Auburn started talking about the common sense of moving back to the West to be in the same division as Alabama again?  Of course not.

As far as a nine-game conference schedule goes, get back to me when Jacobs and Malzahn state for the record they’re in favor of it.

These assholes (more accurately, these assholes’ boss and his peers) made a mess of things, not because the fans were clamoring for change, but because Mike Slive and his presidents were unhappy that the Big Ten had struck a better TV deal for itself than the SEC enjoyed and conference expansion was the ticket to getting an SEC Network.  If the fourteen-team conference that resulted has shown itself to be every bit the round peg in the square hole challenge many anticipated, well, that’s our tough luck.

And now, Jay Jacobs thinks moving Auburn to the SEC East will fix things, or, at least, will lead to a process that will fix things.  Seth Emerson outlines the reasons that’s nonsense, although even he thinks ultimately realignment should be on the table.

Auburn’s wish to avoid Saban aside, much of the self-inflicted wound caused by conference expansion could be healed with one simple move, embracing the nine-game conference schedule to which Staples alludes.  Alas, that’s never been on the table and, according to Greg Sankey, still isn’t.

A nine-game conference schedule is also not on the agenda, Sankey added…

“The 2013-14 year, this conference spent a great deal of time at every level of leadership, our presidents and chancellors, our athletics directors, really looking across the landscape of options, from a football scheduling standpoint, and landed where we are currently: Eight conference games, with the expectation of a ninth game played against a colleague conference institution, with the divisional alignment that’s in place. And it’s worked well.”

Sure it has.  Just ask Jay Jacobs.

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45 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

45 responses to “Auburn’s push East, or throwing good money after bad

  1. PTC DAWG

    6 SEC teams fire Coaches for not winning the SEC. Having 4 of them in the same division makes zero sense.

    Like

  2. Castleberry

    If Auburn slid east and Missouri west, who would be our permanent West rival? Hopefully not Missouri.

    I don’t see nine conference games as a fix because of the unbalanced home schedule. Five Conference Road games every other year would certainly kill a lot of these neutral site money maker games that are popping up all over the place.

    Also I disagree that Alabama and Auburn east is a fix. How many conference titles Would that give the west historically? Seems like a handful from LSU and then you’re going back into the 60s.

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    • If Auburn slid east and Missouri west, who would be our permanent West rival? Hopefully not Missouri.

      Georgia’s schedule would be unchanged if that were to happen.

      As far as nine-conference games goes, speaking only for myself, I’d sure prefer to see the Dawgs play Texas A&M before playing some random P5 team like Virginia in the Dome. And if McGarity doesn’t want to give up the Dome money, drop a cupcake. Overall, I bet that’s more profitable, anyway.

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      • TimberDawg94

        As a GA fan, you would see Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina have to play Auburn every year instead of Missouri. What the hell is not to like about that?

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        • As an SEC fan, I do miss the Auburn-Florida series, which produced some terrific games.

          But you’ll have to explain the attractiveness of swapping the Third Saturday in October for an Auburn-Tennessee series to me. I don’t get that.

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    • The984

      I think you’d see support for permanent rivals erode even more with a push for a 6-2 system rather 6-1-1. If Auburn moved to the East, one of the three important permanent interdivisional games (UGA-Auburn) is off the table. Alabama won’t be able to push to play both Auburn AND Tennessee each year.

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  3. Paul

    The real reason for an eight game schedule is, of course, that it allows for a steady diet of cupcakes. Until the Playoff makes good on its threat to actually consider strength of schedule nothing will change. The first time someone does not make it in because they played two or three glorified scrimmages we will move to one division, nine conference games and the two best teams in the championship game. Without the former, the latter will never happen. So we might as well get used to exciting match ups with the likes of Samford, Murray State and Austin Peay. Sweet.

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    • How much would you wager that Georgia would be the first team that did not make it to the playoffs because of our cupcake games? It would be the epitome of the Georgia Way for us to go undefeated and get left out because of strength of schedule.

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    • College Football Playoff should move to 8 teams and mandate that to be eligible teams must play 9 conference games and 1 Major or mid major. Could even do 12 teams and move to an 11 game regular season using 1st tier and Major bowls rotating the games.

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  4. 3rdandGrantham

    “C’mon, man. If Jacobs got his way and Auburn moved to the East, only to see the divisional balance of power shift in a few years (perhaps because of Saban’s retirement), would Staples or anyone else be even slightly surprised if Auburn started talking about the common sense of moving back to the West to be in the same division as Alabama again? Of course not.”

    Precisely this. It’s obvious this is what is going on, and frankly there really is nothing else that needs to be added. Back in the 90’s and early 00’s, when UF and UT were dominant while Bama and LSU (and AU most years) were a mess, there was talk of realignment then too, as the SECE was the dominant division, which wasn’t fair to the UGA’s, SCU’s, and even UT’s of the world.

    It’s all cyclical, and soon enough UF and perhaps even UT will be a power again, while LSU and/or AU slips, Saban retires, and Ole Miss is sitting their sucking their thumbs while riding out their 7th year of probation. Let’s also not forget that SCU is a far better program these days too than they were back then.

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  5. Bigshot

    A nine game conference schedule would hurt teams that have a traditional out of conference opponent. Would it not ?

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  6. Normaltown Mike

    Shouldn’t we revive the XFL and move Auburn (along with Baylor, UNLV, FAU and Memphis) there?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lazy grad

    I would be in favor of this only if AU plays UF before the Cocktail party like it used to be (granted, that’s what my hazy memory recalls). Not after… not a few weeks before, but the week before…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. CVegas Dawg

    Why don’t we move everybody but Alabama to the East. I’m sure all the current West teams would be on board. Or what if the West teams figured out a way to stop Alabama? Nevermind that’s too logical.

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  9. HVL Dawg

    You’ve truly got to hand it to Auburn. They have proven time and time again that they will do whatever it takes to win. Impressive.

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  10. Just go to the damn pod scheduling system, add the 9th conference game, and everybody from Steve Spurrier to Gus Malzahn can stop with their bitching.

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  11. Debby Balcer

    I guess they are not man enough anymore.

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  12. Bright Idea

    It seems that Missouri should be the one making this argument if it is about geographic rivals and travel for football fans and the other sports teams. Auburn clearly wants to get out of the division with Bama and maybe even move the Iron Bowl to earlier in the season.

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    • ApalachDawg

      Missouri doesn’t have the historical “factor” to be making any demands. They are still lucky to have been invited to the party…

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      • Why does that matter? We’re charter members and we get juiced all the time.

        Hey, maybe if Auburn moves divisions we can play them at their place in back-to-back years again! Fun!

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  13. The only answer where Auburn is concerned:

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  14. southernlawyer11

    I’d like to hear yall’s opinions on this scheduling proposal. You could actually make a few tweeks and shuffle LSU, UT and Ark and have functionally the same SEC East and West alignments every other year……and in the off years, it’s mad/crazy/fun variety. Pacifies all comers, this method.
    https://theroommateswitch.wordpress.com/

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  15. Biggen

    If their impetus to move is truly because of Bama blocking them from the SEC championship game, then moving to the East won’t help them at all. UGA would fill that void. What is the UGA record against AU the last 10 years again??

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    • Cojones

      Lately it hasn’t mattered except when they get lucky. Luck is the first thing to go when considering the variables that account for win/loss between teams, especially when we play the barners. Too bad we don’t play Nicholls and others with the same intensity.

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  16. Cojones

    The down side of the SECCG loss can be erased by going to 8 teams in the NC – the top eight teams ranked regardless of conference. Ranking could include sos and set prior to divisional playoffs. If two top 8 teams meet in a conference championship, those games could take on additional importance of elimination for the New True Playoffs. If that leaves an odd number, then the Div Champ would get a bye for defeating one of the eight earlier.

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  17. dubyadee

    Regardless of Auburn’s intentions, I have been in favor of moving them to the east since the first rumblings that Missouri might join the SEC . . . IF we can get Ole Miss as our new cross divisional rivalry game. I am not saying it would necessarily be good for Georgia’s championship hopes, just that I am still bitter that the expansion cost us the bi-annual road trip to Oxford.

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  18. The Georgia Way

    Rest assured, we are already in front of this great revenue opportunity.

    We have commissioned a “national search” for additional bids for our slot in the SEC East.

    We will not sole-source it. You have our word on this.

    #COMMITTOTHEG

    Like

  19. Biggus Rickus

    It can both be cynical and common sense. Sure, Nashville is west of Auburn, but it isn’t west of Tuscaloosa. I thought they should have moved Auburn over to the East when they expanded last time rather than put a team further west than everyone but A&M in the East.

    Like

  20. Bob

    Regardless of motive, Auburn in the east makes a ton more sense than this dumber than dirt Mizzou in the east does. Move Vandy or UK or someone like that if not Auburn, but the current situation is absolutely moronic. Period.

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  21. southernlawyer11

    [again] Why not this ? Should have been done yesterday https://theroommateswitch.wordpress.com/

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    • The984

      YES. I have been a vocal advocate for that system for years now. It allows for a conference-wide round robin in just 4 years. It preserves multiple important historic rivalries. It allows for an 8 game schedule so that teams can schedule either intriguing opponents (such as UGA adding a second P5 team after GaTech) or cupcakes.

      It’s the perfect solution.

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  22. Mayor

    I’ve said this before: Kick the last four entries into the SEC out of the conference, go to a 9 game conference schedule and go to round robin scheduling where every team plays every other team each year. The only way to determine a true conference champion.

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  23. Macallanlover

    Agree Senator, why is this idea getting a serious hearing just because Auburn is a pansy? I also thought it was just Dye drinking again and whining. For this beginning to get traction show how little leadership there is in Birmingham. Next thing you know they will let LSU’s crybaby AD swap Florida for Vandy. Go to none conference games, man up with the habd you are dealt or hit the road. Plenty of teams that want your spot Auburn, ask GT how they leaving worked out. It would clean up compliance and violence issues as well.

    Like