Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What should divisions look like with a 14-team SEC? Easy…

image Today, the Kansas City Star cited reliable sources in a report that Missouri had an offer on the table to join the SEC, and that the SEC was willing to wait on the final fate of the Big 12 conference. The boards of regents at Oklahoma and Texas have both voted to explore options, and of course all of this comes in the wake of Texas A&M’s formal secession from the Big 12 and acceptance into the SEC (barring court action blocking the move).

Later reports from USA Today’s Campus Corner had the SEC denying that it had made an offer to Missouri, but the sense is that the “denial” is plausible because, while the SEC probably has a wink-nudge offer to Mizzou, no way is Slive & Co. going to allow themselves to be portrayed as hunting on posted ground.

A&M looks to be all but a done deal and Mizzou might well be the dance partner, bringing the SEC to a 14-program conference with two, seven-member divisions.

The math of having an even number of conference participants makes scheduling a relatively easy thing to do. Scheduling equitably with 13 members is doable, but it wouldn’t be easy and it would leave some division members missing out on one game that they’d probably like to play.

There’s a good deal of chatter on how the two new conference members would fit into the league’s divisional system. Some folks think having two programs from west of the Mississippi all but guarantees that Auburn is pushed into the SEC East and both of the former Big 12 schools join the west. There’s also talk of rearranging some of the programs from the East and West to bring more balance. All of that is much too complicated and would likely end some storied conference rivalries.

A much easier solution (and therefore the one that will likely be the first option rejected) would be to simply rename the two divisions, keep the existing members in place and split the two new programs between the former East and West Divisions. Like this, for example:

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

In order to maintain the eight-game SEC schedule that requires each team to play each of its divisional opponents, one of the two rotating interdivisional games would have to be dropped, and each member school plays two opponents from the other division, rather than three (a recent schedule tweak following the addition of the 12th regular season game). One of the two interdivisional opponents is designated a divisional rival, while the other rotates on a home-away basis.

Alabama keeps its Iron Bowl rivalry with Auburn and neither team faces the prospect of having to play back-to-back should both be in the SEC Championship Game. Tennessee and Alabama also keep their storied rivalry, as do Auburn and Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, Georgia and Florida, and so on. Texas A&M and Missouri would almost certainly choose one another as their interdivisional rival, and you’re all set for an eight game schedule with 14 teams in the SEC.

Told ya that would be easy. Check, please?

Exit Question: Can Mike Slive avoid the disaster of division names that Jim Delany came up with?

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Unknown said...

Good idea.

Here's a better one.

Move the Wor-Cheats to the East and UA keeps UT as our annual game. *ubarn benefits by restoring 60-year rivalries with Tennessee and Florida that they lost in the 1992 expansion, and keeping their annual UGa game.

We benefit by preserving the best rivalry in the conference between the TWO undisputed leaders in all-time SEC Titles. We further benefit by reducing the hate directed at UA from the nation's most ugly and mentally sick rivalry with the paid mercenaries from West-Ga.

As for the larger schedule - the best most logical option, and thus the plan that will never be accepted, would be a Nine game conference schedule - simply adding one more in-division game and keeping everything else the same. This will NEVER be accepted due to the greed of SEC AD's.

The second best option - similar to the Pod proposals discussed for the "PAC-16", but retaining the two divisions. - Keep the same cross division arrangement - one set and two rotating games.

For in-division games, keep 5 games, mimic the cross-division setup, but with 3 set and two rotating slots.

Each team has three "set" in-division games, and the other three rotate two per year the same way the cross division games are rotated. Every year one in-division team drops off the schedule and the third rotates back on.

For example - LSU's set in division games might be Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas. In year one they might play MSU and Mizzou. Year two MSU drops off and they play Mizzou and aTm. Year three Mizzou drops off and they play aTm and MSU.

No one goes more than a year between games against in-division teams.

Easy as pie! :-)

David L. said...

The only problem with a nine game conference schedule is that half of the conference would play four at home and five away, while the other half plays five at home and four away every year.

While the rotation would shift each year, giving up an SEC home game and the accompanying revenue is something that SEC heavyweights would easily block.

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