Monday, April 28, 2014

On SEC Scheduling

In the news once again is SEC scheduling, as the conference voted to remain with 8 conference games and permanent cross-division rivalries.

As a guy who does a yearly round-up of out-of-conference football schedules, I'm certainly a fan of the conference suggesting/requiring teams to schedule one strong out-of-conference opponent. (Of course, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina already comply.) It probably won't help bring back Texas A&M-Texas or anything, but Kansas sucks enough that we'll probably get Kansas-Missouri back at least.

The main problem, though, is the the permanent cross-division rivalries. The issue, as pointed out by Bill Callahan and others two years ago, is that most of the cross-division permanently rivalries aren't especially interesting in and of themselves.

Right now, the matchups are:

Alabama Tennessee
Auburn Georgia
Arkansas Missouri
LSU Florida
Mississippi Vanderbilt
Mississippi State Kentucky
Texas A&M South Carolina 

This is pretty much nonsensical. I would argue only two of these games are interesting from a historical perspective.

Instead, I have a much more radical proposal: realign the divisions.

Texas A&M and Mizzou were put into the divisions they wound up in out of convenience to fit the existing schedule. If the powers-that-be were actually at a point were they were willing to blow it up, why not go even further? It's not really even that bad, actually. Here's my proposal:

Arkansas Alabama
Kentucky Auburn
Louisiana State Florida
Mississippi Georgia
Mississippi State South Carolina
Missouri Tennessee
Texas A&M Vanderbilt

Essentially, Alabama and Auburn would move to the SEC East and Missouri and Kentucky would move to the West. These divisions eliminate the need for cross-division rivalries, which means that that every year each team plays one home game and one away game with the opposite division.

I guess the only downside is that Kentucky is geographically east of Nashville, but that's not nearly as bad as Missouri being the furthest west member of the SEC East. Also, this only affects football, so I doubt too many feathers would be ruffled up in Lexington.

Otherwise, all natural and historic rivalries are preserved (well, depending on how you feel about Kentucky versus Vandy and Tennessee). One might argue that this makes the East too strong, but that's such a fleeting thing. The other argument I could see that all the history is in the East, after all, 6 of the teams in the East were original SEC members (as opposed to 4 in the West), but that's sort of the point since the idea was to preserve Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia.

At any rate, I can only assume this hasn't happened yet because it makes too much sense.