Now we are 16.

So, if Oklahoma and Texas are on their way to becoming the newest members of the Southeastern Conference, we can assume the schools will have overcome their biggest concern — the money (duh).  That leaves the fans’ biggest concern, which is scheduling.

The last round of expansion, to fourteen teams, has led to an awkward phase of scheduling, to put it mildly.  The conference elected not to increase the number of games each team played with other members, while leaving one permanent cross-division team in place, which has led to a situation where SEC teams in one division go six years before playing any team other than the one permanent rival (using the term loosely for some).  That’s hardly palatable if one of the purposes behind having a conference is to have members face each other regularly.

So, if fourteen is awkward for scheduling purposes, what does that make sixteen?  Ridiculous, for starters:  without any changes from the current scheduling format, you’ve added another year between cross-division teams meeting.  Obviously the conference will be faced with making some changes to the status quo, if only for the obvious reason that there’s another divisional game on the schedule going forward, which means something has to give somewhere.

That brings us to the pods vs. divisions debate, which is succinctly summarized as follows ($$):

If this move with Texas and Oklahoma goes through, the SEC will need to figure out if it’s more important to have everyone play each other (pods) or create deeper rivalries with the same annual matchups (divisions).

I don’t think it’s any secret that my sympathies lie with a divisional setup, for precisely the reason stated there.  But I’m not Greg Sankey.  And I have a sinking feeling that his choice will depend on the answer to another question; namely, will the SEC change its conference schedule from eight games to nine?  If the answer is no, I don’t see where the conference has any choice but to ditch divisions, because otherwise the result would be even worse than what is has now.

It’s a close call.  On the one hand, you’ve got those coaches who want the cushion of enough cupcake games to grease the skids on the way to bowl eligibility.  (Curious, when you think of all the people who insist that the bowls are on their way to becoming anachronisms in the coming era of playoff expansion.)  Then, you’ve also got coaches who insist the SEC’s brand is so strong that a ninth conference game not only isn’t necessary for playoff consideration, but would be an unfair roadblock.  (Adding Oklahoma and Texas would seem to give further weight to that argument.)

On the other, adding that ninth game means more product for Mickey, which should mean more money for the conference coffers.  Further, a 12-team playoff lessens the roadblock issue.  In fact, if we’re to believe Kirby Smart, a tougher schedule will be a net plus for selection committee consideration.  So, for now, I don’t know how this shakes out.

What’s your preference?

109 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

109 responses to “Now we are 16.

  1. Divisions. Auburn and Bama into the East, Tex and OU and Mizzou into the West. Do away with the cross division rival, but expand the SEC schedule to 9 games.

    Liked by 14 people

    • This is my vote , as well.

      The only resistance to this would maybe be from LSU who would lose playing Bama every year? Not sure LSU would even think that is a bad thing.

      Like

      • I’m not sure LSU doesn’t come to the East if MO goes to the west.

        Like

        • There’s no way they split Auburn and Alabama in either a pod or division construct. The Iron Bowl is just as valuable of a property as a single game as the Cocktail Party. LSU isn’t coming to the East.

          The only way divisions work is for Bama and Auburn to move to the East with Missouri moving to the West.

          Liked by 5 people

          • There are 7 in each division now. Assuming TX and OK go to the west and MO moves to the west the west would be +3. That means 3 would have to move to keep the divisions equal and I’m not sure they would want to split the MS schools. That leaves LSU or Arkansas. LSU is the more logical choice.

            Like

            • mp

              Your math is off. If the East only loses Missouri, they only need to add two teams to get to 8. Auburn Alabama are all the east needs to add. The West is +3 (Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri) and -2 (AU and UA) to get to then 8.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Bulldawg Bill

              I desperately don’t want AL in the East. YMMV.

              Like

              • Down Island Way

                Why not, UGA football has to compete against the bammers yearly now (in a 14 member sec)…what’s the difference…we always pray they slip up before UGA plays them…Or that UGA football plays a full 60 against them…

                Like

            • The divisions would be:
              East – Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
              West – Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M

              Unless I’ve done some wrong, there’s no need to send LSU or Arkansas to the east if Bama and Auburn come to the east.

              Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t believe LSU would have a problem with it especially since they don’t even really live playing Florida every year.

        Like

        • 69Dawg

          https://theroommateswitch.wordpress.com/ is the answer. It’s a 14 team POD concept that was actually designed to have all teams keep their rivals but play every other team home and home within four years. It is too weird for me to summarize but it would work. Read it and get back to us with your thoughts.

          Liked by 2 people

          • That’s fine … I would have no problem with a pod structure that saves the rivalries that are worth saving. I don’t trust this group of 16 to make those decisions without being money-whipped by Mickey, and I’m not sure Mickey cares beyond the Iron Bowl, the Cocktail Party, the Red River Shootout, and the renewal of Texas & TAM.

            Like

          • Jeremiah Stevens

            It’s a good proposal, and it allows us to keep the championship game without getting a rule change from the NCAA or just telling them to get over themselves.

            From my standpoint, its one drawback is that it is more complicated than a pure pod-based system, which brings us to this point: They use the word “pod” to mean a mini-division, which is NOT how the word is used in a pure pod-scheduling format: https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system

            Seems like that may be behind some folks’s confusion about the issues.

            Like

    • This is my preferred as well. My real preferred would be to reject Texas and Oklahoma, keep the existing divisions, and play 9 games.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. sundiatagaines

    I vote for divisions and 9 games.

    Like

  3. rigger92

    I don’t know that the mental effort I would have to go through is even worth coming to a preference between the two.

    I do know, to your reference to the bowl game conundrum, it’s not so much going to a bowl as it is extra practice time for the coaches to enjoy. I’m sure the pay bonus helps too, but that practice time is used to get a jump on next year and a team that doesn’t go to a bowl is behind the 8 ball.

    Like

  4. 81Dog

    What happens to the SECC game if there are pods? Of course, even without pods, the SECC game is probably headed away ftom Atlanta most years. And goodbye to the annual AU game. “Sacrifices must be made.”

    I hate every bit of this.

    Liked by 4 people

    • ben

      I hate all of it, too. From the perspective of being a UGA fan, it’s gonna make it that much harder to get to where we want to be.

      As a CFB fan in general, no more will we get a chance to see some kind of mid-major upset a top Power 5 school, and the fun of post-season matchups just goes away.

      And finally, I just don’t want to deal with Texas people every single year.

      Like

    • PTC DAWG

      Best 2 records go…

      Like

  5. Gaskilldawg

    The SEC historically has not worried about every member playing each other during frequent intervals. We went 20 plus years, iirc, between games against LSU. Likewise, we went years and years between games against Tennessee and against Mississippi State. Tech was in the SEC for 30 years and played 1 game in the State of Mississippi.
    I guess it depends on what Alabama wants. Me, divisions with a 10 game conference schedule.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. ApalachDawg aux Bruxelles

    Divisions (bama and barn to east)

    Like

  7. If we have to do this, I don’t care how it’s done as long as the Cocktail Party and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry are annual affairs. If it’s divisional realignment and we pick up an annual game with Alabama over Missouri, I’m down. If it’s a pod system where Florida is in our pod and Auburn is a permanent inter-pod opponent, that works for me. If we and Auburn are able to schedule OOC home and home games the years we don’t play regardless of the system, make it happen, Josh.

    The one alternative that doesn’t work is for us to go the mat for $ankey and his Birmingham minions and agree to let the game in Piedmont Park in 1892 that started what we now call SEC football go the way of Oklahoma-Nebraska. Coach Russell and Coach Dye will be spinning in their graves if we and Auburn allow this to happen. I don’t imagine Coach Dooley would be too happy either.

    Liked by 5 people

    • miltondawg

      If it is a pod system, I think that you play everyone in your pod each year and two teams from each other pod on a rotating basis so that you play each team from each other pod twice during a four year period with one being on the road and other at home. Pretty sure under that system, we are getting Florida in our pod. Also pretty under that system, we won’t get Auburn in our pod unless our pod also includes Bama as neither Bama nor Auburn are going to give up the Iron Bowl. The other question would be whether Birmingham puts Tennessee in our pod or in Bama’s pod to preserve Third Saturday in October (which no longer is).

      Like

      • This is exactly why I’m totally against the pod system. I really don’t care about trips to those locations and giving up the Auburn game as an annual event.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Jeremiah Stevens

          I think you’re actually opposed to something else, not the true pod-based system, EVERY version of which keeps both the Auburn and Florida games as annual events. Here’s the description. Look at the scheduling chart at the bottom:
          https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system

          In a true pod-based system, pods are NOT mini-divisions. (The “Roommate Swap” proposal uses the term this way, but that’s just an unhappy accident, and even then, that proposal also preserves both the Auburn and Florida games as annual matchups) In a true pod-based system, every single team in the conference has a unique pod of annual opponents and rotates all the other teams every other year.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I understand … it makes sense. The problem is someone is going to get screwed in this scenario. Using the permanent opponents in your link, that team would be Kentucky, who really only has 1 real football rival in the league … Tennessee. Throw in the additional complexity associated with going from 14 to 16, and I believe you have a mess on your hands. Someone isn’t going to be happy with their pod.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jeremiah Stevens

              True. Someone’s going to be unhappy. I’m pretty sure that going from 14 to 16 requires a ninth conference game, no matter what model you choose. If that’s the case, then the adjustment to this system is simple: add one more every-other-year game. It becomes 3-6 instead of 3-5.

              I think it has the fewest downsides, though Wunderlich proposes a Tier-based system that I haven’t given any serious thought to yet (at the bottom): https://www.gatorcountry.com/feature/four-football-scheduling-options-for-a-potential-16-team-sec/

              With this system, UK would still see UTK every other year, and if someone has to get screwed in the football schedule, then maybe screwing the basketball school is the way to go?

              Like

              • No doubt it will be a 3-6 model if the league moves away from divisions. One of the issues I see is that Oklahoma has 3 natural rivals in this scenario (Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri). Will A&M want to use one of their permanent dance card spots on Oklahoma? Texas and LSU will likely be in high demand as a permanent opponent. Some are going to get stuck with a schedule boat anchor like Vanderbilt. I personally would rather play Tennessee every year, but we’re probably going to end up with South Carolina as our 3rd opponent because we really are the only conference school they have a deep history with.

                Like

      • Jeremiah Stevens

        I don’t think what you’re describing is the real pod scheduling proposal: https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system

        Look at the chart at the bottom. Pods are not just smaller divisions. In pod scheduling, every single team in the conference has their own unique pod. We would keep both Auburn and Florida every year.

        Like

  8. kingcmo2000

    Divisions and 9 games is cleanest. My hope is that espn is pushing for that 9th game for the same reason the fans should be. They may end up on espn+, but so be it.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It seems moving to 9 games and pods creates a more valuable product. More conference games is obvious, but adding pods means you get more variety and UT(a) & Oklahoma playing east teams more regularly thus creating more marquis games. So, whatever we want, I presume the ultimate result will be the one that produces the most revenue to be where things land.

    Personally, I want to ensure we play Auburn and Florida every year. I’d like to continue playing UT(k) and USCar every year. I’d like to play UT(a) and Oklahoma regularly enough that I’ll be able to make a trip to Austin and Norman while I can still walk around a tailgate comfortably. I can see how this is accomplished through both divisions and pods.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Under pods, we will likely be with Florida, South Carolina, and Vandy/Kentucky.

      Like

      • miltondawg

        Agreed. I think UK so that Bama keeps UT(k) on their schedule.

        Like

      • Jeremiah Stevens

        Again, I think you’re describing mini-divisions, not a true pod-based structure: https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system

        Look at the scheduling chart at the bottom.

        In a true pod-based scheduling system, every single team in the conference would have their own unique pod of annual opponents, and then play the other teams every other year.
        Our pod would necessarily include both Auburn and Florida, probably rounded out with South Carolina.
        Auburn’s pod would include us and Bama, probably rounded out with Miss. St.
        Florida’s pod would include us and Tennessee, probably rounded out with South Carolina.
        So on and so forth for every single team in the conference.

        Liked by 1 person

    • setzer613

      I feel they will do divisions. 9 game and keep a cross divisional rival. The question is who gets who?

      Personally, I want Bama to get Oklahoma, Auburn to get Arkansas, Tennessee to get Texas, and is to get Mizzou.

      If they drop the cross division rivalry it just makes Florida’s schedule easier, and likely Alabama’s and with Bama soon to be in our division we might be “close to / on the same level” but we have not proven it on the field, division titles just got a lot harder.

      Like

      • If they keep the divisions, the cross-division opponent goes away especially if Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee are in the same division. Those schools are the only ones truly invested in the permanent cross-division game today. Florida and LSU could care less if they play each other every year.

        Liked by 4 people

        • setzer613

          Ole miss will not want to give up an easy Vandy win each year.

          Also uga should be vested in wanting to keep something so Florida has to play LSU. Plus if Bama and Oklahoma become locked, then that “could” help us win a division that just got more crowded and harder with the addition of Bama.

          Like

  10. ZeroPOINTzero

    The term Pod is enough to make me say no to it. It makes Legends and Leaders sound good.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Ran A

    “Mickey be a ho”… We going to 9…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tim B

    Two divisions, play every team in your division, the cross division game does not count toward selecting a division winner. Division winners play for the SEC championship. For Georgia that probably means Alabama is in your division and you sit out the championship game most years but you still might make the playoffs if you have a decent team.

    Like

    • HirsuteDawg

      I think we are at / can get to the point where we can win our fair share against BAMA. Two regions are my preference and think we’ll be one of the Big Dogs in the East. If 9 division games do you think we will still play Tech every year?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. CB

    Any scenario where Georgia doesn’t play Florida and Auburn every year is a nonstarter for me as a fan. All the pod projections I’ve seen eliminate the annual DSOR.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jeremiah Stevens

      Which pod projections have you seen? The only ones I’m aware of all preserve both the DSOR and the Cocktail Party as annual matchups. Here’s the original proposal: https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system

      Look at the scheduling chart at the bottom. In this proposal, “pod” does NOT mean “self-contained mini-divisions”. It means “a given teams unique slate of annual opponents”. There would be a unique pod for every single team in the conference. We would get Auburn, Florida, and SC. Auburn would get us, Bama, and MSU. Florida would get us, Tennessee, and SC. So on and so forth.

      Here is another proposal, in which “pod” does mean “mini-division”. It’s more complicated, but even this one would preserve both the DSOR and the Cocktail Party as annual games: https://theroommateswitch.wordpress.com/

      I think you’re actually opposed to something that’s not being seriously considered.

      Like

      • CB

        The only ones I’ve seen have excluded the DSOR while maintaining the WLOCP. Usually have UK and USCe as the 3rd and 4th teams.

        Like

  14. akascuba

    Looking at this from a 10 year lens. I see pods with a four team SEC playoff. To get there two cupcake games may need to be removed from the schedule.

    The easy fix is selling tickets to the current free spring games. Invite the cupcakes to a spring and end of fall camp exhibition game with full ticket sales. Also do away with minimum wins requirement for bowl games. Sprinkle a few dollars on the players for not adding any real games to the schedule allowing the conference to hide behind helping student athletes.

    Like

    • There is no way there will be a 4-team SEC playoff. It would be as useless as the conference tournaments are in basketball now. Are you going to tell season ticket holders that we’re going to reduce the inventory of games available to them, so they can buy a ticket at a premium prices to a conference semifinal? Also, you’re going to tell the South Carolina/MSU/Ole Miss type programs that they are only going to get 5 home games per year.

      At that point, you might as well just play the games with CGI fans in the stands.

      Like

      • PTC DAWG

        At this point, I just hope the SECCG survives.

        Like

        • The SECCG is likely for a top 4 seed and a guaranteed bye as opposed to turning around a week or 2 later as a wild card in a play-in game and possibly playing a team that didn’t play on championship weekend.

          The SEC isn’t giving up its most prized single television property without a really good reason.

          Like

          • PTC DAWG

            I too believe this is the case, but just last week, could you see OU and TX coming into our sand box?

            Like

            • ESPN wants the SEC championship game to remain relevant because it has real CFP implications. That’s with or without Texas and Oklahoma. That’s why I don’t get this whole thing. The league was likely to get 4 slots anyway (1 champion + 3 wild cards) in the expanded playoff (see the last 3 years). The cannibalism isn’t going to be rewarded by the selection committee because the committee has not rewarded a team for a “quality loss.” In most years, there will only be 5 wild card spots available because Notre Dame is going to take one of them. When the Power 5 becomes the Power 4, that likely means the Group of 5 will be getting one more conference champion spot. The committee is not going to allow the 5th and 6th “best” team in the SEC to get in over 2nd or 3rd best team from another Power 5 league.

              All of this is about the regular season TV package no matter what people say.

              Like

              • miltondawg

                I think that Sankey is angling for more than just four teams in a 12 team playoff if the news of talks with Clemson, FSU, Ohio State, and Michigan are true.

                Like

                • There is no way Ohio State and Michigan are leaving their money tree in the Big 10. I don’t see Clemson & FSU leaving given the media rights agreement they have agreed to unless they are willing to fight the ACC itself and their other members in court (talk about awkward conference meetings).

                  I have always believed the Power 5 schools (including ND as a sort of ACC member) plus about 7-10 other schools (UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, Boise, Fresno, Colorado State and BYU – I could be convinced I missed a couple or others should be a substitute) should wave goodbye to the NCAA for all sports and form their own organization.

                  Like

      • akascuba

        Money is what matters most to ESPN. How to get more money seems to be what is driving college presidents voting. Give them both enough money anything is possible. I think what fans and regular season ticket holders want is not in the decision. I’m not happy with any of this not that that matters.

        Like

        • I totally get it. I also get that alumni who are season ticket holders are more likely to be donors directly to the universities themselves. Alienate the rank and file season ticket holder (especially the alumni) at your own peril, and I’m meaning the broader university. When you push that person out, you may also take their contribution directly to the university out as well.

          Like

  15. Holiday Inn Bagman

    When I rub the SEC genie lamp unearthed in Roy Kramer’s old basement and am granted three wishes they are as follows.

    We play Florida annually
    We play Auburn annually
    Minimum 9 league games

    Whether we do those things in pods or divisions doesn’t seem all that important to me. 8 league games is a relic of a 12 league setup and an era when you could only play 11 games unless there just happened to be an extra Saturday between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Isn’t that whole extra Saturday thing adorable in hindsight?

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Bulldawg Bill

    Can you imagine having to beat your head against the wall every year at ‘bama just to make the SEC championship game? Husts just thinking about it. Cannibalism in action, I tell ya’!

    Like

  17. PTC DAWG

    4 pods….play the 3 in your pod every year, play 2 from the other pods every year…this rotates everyone quickly…I’ve seen UGA/KY/UF/Carolina as our pod.

    I suppose I’m not as hung up on playing The Barn every year as many here are.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. ASEF

    I prefer 4 pods and 9 SEC regular season games. Or maybe a divisional set-up that’s not just geography. An SEC-W that’s basically “used to be SWC/B-12” while most of the traditional SEC powers battle over in the East just seems weird to me and heavily emphasizes that the SEC is not really the SEC anymore.

    I suspect those details have already been penciled in, though, pending this surviving Texas politics. I think 9 games is a done deal in a 16 team conference. Mickey and Sankey will get the bowl requirements modified. 9 games and more invite flexibility is a win-win for The Ears.

    Like

  19. MGW

    Pods. Each team gets what’s most important; preserving rivalries, and playing every other conference team as often as possible.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jeremiah Stevens

      Only problem is we have to flip off the NCAA to keep the championship game, or just lean on them to change the rule. Both are very doable.

      Like

  20. otto1980

    Why do we need pods or divisions? Play an 8 or 9 game schedule with 5 or so permanent game and the remaining as rotation games with the best 2 records going to the Championship game?

    Like

  21. beatarmy92

    Senator, if you haven’t read the Vannini rant in the Athletic this morning you need to head on over there. He’s preaching your sermon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, too bad it’s only about nine years late.

      I’ll probably post something pissy about it tomorrow.

      Liked by 2 people

      • beatarmy92

        I guess I hadn’t thought about the potential/eventual breakup of the SEC, because I’m not an asshole who works for Disney. He’s right though that it looks inevitable. If this realignment is to avoid deals expiring then the Super League idea will be next up once the about to be executed deal nears its end.

        Right?

        Like

  22. Tony BarnFart

    No divisions or pods
    9 conference games
    3 permanent rivals per school
    6 rotating on/off or home/home

    Everybody can keep a couple historic rivalries and play everyone else twice in 4 years. Divisions with Bama and Auburn to the east is just a scheduling agreement essentially between the pre-92 SEC and a chunk of the southwest conference with original SEC members LSU, Ole Miss and State ripped from their historic home.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I could agree with this.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jeremiah Stevens

        Then you actually like the original pod proposal: https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system

        In which “pod” just means “a given team’s slate of three permanent rivals”.

        Like

        • I keep hearing pods with permanent opponents, but I am wary of the impact on the Auburn game if it’s not implemented correctly. Honestly, for my simple brain, I would rather see Alabama and Auburn move to the East (7 permanent opponents and rotate through the West over a 4-year period) and move Missouri to the West where their more natural opponents exist. Every player may not visit every SEC stadium during his 4 years, but he has the potential to face every team at least once during his eligibility. That system also keeps and enhances annual rivalries.

          This system also maintains the integrity of the regular season by saying 7 go in and 1 comes out to play in the SEC championship game.

          I’ve seen Georgia get screwed by the conference office too many times to trust the schedulers.

          Like

          • Jeremiah Stevens

            That would work, too! The one thing that almost certainly won’t work is staying at 8 conference games.

            Like

            • There’s no way to make it work at 8 conference games, and that’s my other problem with this whole thing – expansion in general. Schools trying to make the playoff have to survive one more conference game to get there while Clemson (plays 8) and Ohio State (yes, they play 9) skate through their conferences to a top 4 seed. The cannibalism likely pushes a 5 or 6 seed to a 7 or 8 with a more difficult play-in opponent or a 7 or 8 to a 9+ to play on the road. That potential 11 or 12 seed may even get pushed out of the playoff all together due to a late season loss in a 9th conference game.

              Like

          • 8 go in and 1 comes out – Freudian slip

            Like

    • Jeremiah Stevens

      What you’ve just described is actually the original pod proposal: https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system !

      Here, “pod” does not mean “mini-division”. It’s just the name given to each team’s unique slate of permanent rivals.

      Like

  23. godawgs1701

    They can do whatever they like, so long as:

    Georgia plays Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee each season (and Tech our of conference) and
    there is a credible SEC Championship Game at the end of the season in which both participants earned their way there based on defined criteria set before the season and not just “the two teams in the league with the two best records.

    To me, that sounds like divisions, but if they can come up with a way to do it in pods or whatever the heck else then go for it. Don’t do away with more of our rivalries and traditions just so you can get Texas and Oklahoma’s money.

    Like

  24. 69Dawg

    https://theroommateswitch.wordpress.com/ check it out.14 teams, POD concept that makes all your dreams come true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeremiah Stevens

      Yep. I would quibble that it’s not really a pod-based proposal, but a region-based proposal. Using the same word two different ways causes confusion. Either way, it’s a good idea.

      Like

  25. bucketheridge

    The genius of Roy Kramer was that he kept as many traditional rivals in place as possible. In doing so, he preserved the heart of the conference and what drove the passion of the fans. The Big12, on the other hand, threw away Oklahoma v. Nebraska, which was one of the greatest rivalries in all of college football, for nothing.

    If the SEC divides into divisions with the new schools and Missouri put in the west, and Autburn and Alabama in the east would preserve: the Iron Bowl, the Cocktail Party, the Third Saturday in October, the Red River Shootout, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, LSU v. Ole Miss, and the Egg Bowl.

    It would also rekindle Texas v. Arkansas, Texas v. Texas A&M, Auburn v. Florida, and Auburn v. Tennessee.

    Finally, it would give us new yearly rivalries between Alabama and Georgia; Oklahoma and LSU; and Texas and LSU, Alabama and Florida.

    Those are all games that preserve tradition, that rekindle tradition, and that create new traditions. And what do we lose? Florida v. LSU? Alabama and Auburn v. LSU and the Mississippi schools?

    The last round of expansion was about the foolish chase for “television footprints” for the sake of cable subscriptions. The Big10 watered down what made it compelling for the sake of Maryland and Rutgers, neither of whom brought much to the league in the way of actual viewer, anyway. Ditto for the Big12 and West Virginia.

    Meanwhile, the SEC has managed to create what amounts to a division made up of five schools with Big12/SWC/Big8 roots combined with LSU and the Mississippi schools and a division made up of seven charter members of the SEC and South Carolina. They have managed to expand while not only preserving, but increasing what makes our football so compelling in the first place.

    The pundits assume that people care about the SEC because the football’s good, but that’s only part of it. What people like about the SEC is that the passion of the fans comes across so well on television. It’s real, and it’s not based on two teams who just happen to be highly ranked in a given year with no other linkage, and the more of those traditional rivalries you have, especially sprinkled throughout the season the way that they are in the SEC, the more likely you are to have a rivalry game with two highly ranked teams and stakes above and beyond bragging rights.

    For example, I just looked up when they play the Texas v. OU game every year. It’s the same weekend that we’ll be playing Auburn, which I understand will be a permanent fixture that same weekend, or thereabouts, from here on out. That means that if the SEC does it right then every year we’re going to have either Georgia/Auburn or Texas/OU as out number two game of the week. Seriously, what other conference is going to trot out two of the most storied rivalry games in all of college football every year in early October?

    The pod system can’t replicate those results and would be a terrible alternative.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Got Cowdog

        Fuckin’ A Bucket. Well said.
        I think ee’s issue (If I’m wrong I apologize in advance, ee) and mine is that it’s so blatantly obvious (as you stated so well) the good that can come of adding UT and OU, there’s no way the SEC, NCAA, and Mickey won’t fuck it up for everybody.

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    • Tony BarnFart

      My quip would be that you don’t give enough credence to what it would mean for the Mississippi schools and LSU–charter SEC members– to lose Alabama (particularly) and Auburn to an infrequent rotational basis. If you talk about tradition, it’s not particularly warming to essentially shove those 3 into the old SWC rebranded as the SEC. Alabama and Mississippi State may be a lopsided series but it’s also been played 104 times between 2 schools only 84 miles apart.

      That’s why my vote is not pods or divisions but 3 permanents per team and 6 rotating. Everyone gets everyone else at a minimum of every two years.
      The most anyone would lose is a 3rd best rival to an every other year status. Also, the flip side of relegating those original 3 to the SWC-SEC is that I would actually like to play Texas and OU more than every blue moon if we’re going to have them in the same conference.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tony BarnFart

        Alabama has played Mississippi State second most to anybody but Tennessee….by 1 less game over 118 years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jeremiah Stevens

        I like this, too. In fact, this is, verbatim, the original “pod” proposal, in which “pod” is just the name given to “each school’s unique slate of permanent, annual rivals”.

        https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system

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      • bucketheridge

        You’re correct on Miss St. They are definitely losing the most in the above scenario, but to call their Alabama and Auburn games “rivalries” is true in the sense that they have been played for a very long time and very regularly but the reality is that they’ve never been competitive enough to be labeled true rivalries any more than Tennessee has historically been “rivals” with Vanderbilt and Kentucky, present status notwithstanding.

        If we’re talking SEC history, it’s important to remember that prior to the 1992 expansion Auburn was very much an “eastern” SEC team. They lost more than any other school scheduling wise after the 1992 expansion by dropping their longstanding Tennesee rivalry in 92 and later dropping Florida when the SEC went from two yearly cross division opponents to one in the early 2000’s. Auburn had relatively little history with Ole Miss or LSU prior to 1992.

        As for LSU, they have a longstanding annual rivarly with Alabama, but despite being in the same division since 1992, they’ve still played more games against Rice and Kentucky than Auburn.

        No plan is going to be perfect, but dividing the conference in half makes the most sense to me.

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        • Tony BarnFart

          Good points. And Tennessee was arguably very “west” aligned before the 92 split. Ole Miss is still their 4th most played opponent all time and they’ve only met 7 times in the past 30 years.

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    • Jeremiah Stevens

      I agree we need to preserve our historic rivalries. Happily, both of the serious proposals I’ve seen that use the word “pod” do exactly that: https://www.bannersociety.com/2019/8/15/20734585/college-football-divisions-pod-system and https://theroommateswitch.wordpress.com/ !!!

      Note: The first one uses “pod” to mean “a given team’s unique slate of permanent, annual rivals”, while the second one is basically a division-based idea in which “pod” means “a self-contained sub-region used to build the two rotating divisions”.

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      • bucketheridge

        I like these pods better than others that I’ve seen proposed, and I appreciate the desire to play everyone in the conference. Still, I like dividing the conference in half for a few important reasons.

        First, dividing the conference in half preserves the East v. West dynamic within the league that I think has been very healthy for the SEC. It’s a good thing to have “divisional” bragging rights within the conference.

        Second, and this plays off of the first, is that dividing the conference in half preserves the geographic integrity of the conference and keeps things relatively regional despite a large footprint over all. (Although it’s still much smaller and more culturally similar than just about any other conference in the country.)

        Finally, the rarity of a trip to Austin, Oxford, or Norman will be frustrating, but it will also make those all the more exciting when they do happen and will add to the intrigue of conference championship games when they matchup superpowers that have waited a few years to actually play things out on the field. (I admit that this one is a bit of a spin game, but it’s also meant to point out that not all of the effects of rare games are bad and that the rarity does add excitement to the games when they do come to be.)

        I have little doubt that the rest of college football will screw this up by trying to compete with the SEC but will instead continue to add schools that don’t fit into their geographical or cultural identity and water down their product as a whole in the process. But the SEC has been smarter than that in the past, and I think there’s a greater than 50% chance that they’ll handle this expansion the right way.

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  26. You’ve all missed the mark. ESPN will form a committee that includes Saban, Spurrier, some AD’s and former players. There will be an annual selection show in June announcing the SEC schedule. It will be Must See TV because it Just Means More. I’d put money on this. The suits don’t want to be locked into anything when “dynamic scheduling” increases the TV bidding costs for the games. This is the ONLY thing that would make sense as a precursor to a super league.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. uga97

    Everyone play the same sum total athletic revenue funds and it’ll work out. School revenue parity with salary caps.

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