How I Would Reorganize College Football……. Part II: SEC/Southern Conference

In College Football, Realignment on October 13, 2011 at 4:06 PM

In case you missed it:

Week 6
Top 25 Blog
Full ratings, Week 6
Part 1 of this series

I won’t write as much for the other conferences, so I plan on combining some of those.

The SEC and ACC both arose out of the Southern Conference, which split before the 1933 season. I would take three current ACC teams and add them to the current SEC. Since Texas A&M seems in the SEC already, I included them as well. I did not include Missouri, because although they might make a good rival for Arkansas, they don’t really fit overall. The three ACC teams (Georgia Tech, who used to be in the SEC; Florida St.; and Clemson) would all be in existing SEC states, which doesn’t fit the expansion blueprint, but one thing I would explicitly want to do is keep conferences regional.

I put the most thought into this grouping, so I had a couple of different ideas. One would maintain the East/West idea, but what I did there was add Florida St. to the West (which apparently will already gain Texas A&M). That might not make sense at first blush, but the Western border of the SEC East already runs from Nashville to Gainesville. Both Auburn and Tallahassee (along with the rest of the SEC West) are to the South and West of that line. Ga. Tech (Atlanta is slightly to the North and East of the line I mentioned) and Clemson would be added to the East.

I have the teams in an order so that suggested interdivisional rivals line up. So this is the proposal maintaining the East/West system:

Florida-Florida St.
S. Carolina-Arkansas
Ga. Tech-Texas A&M
Clemson-Miss St.
Vandy-Ole Miss

Florida/Florida St. is obvious. The only problem there is the traditional Florida-LSU rivalry (which has been played for 41 straight years…and more times total than Florida-Florida St.) wouldn’t be part of the system. But when the SEC started, each team had two interdivisional rivalries. LSU’s second rivalry had been with Kentucky, whom they had played for 51 consecutive seasons before the format changed. So I started that one again. I don’t think Kentucky’s current permanent rival, Mississippi St. (there have been 37 games total in that series) is a big deal. I’ve maintained Alabama-Tennessee, Ole Miss-Vandy, Auburn-Georgia, and Arkansas-South Carolina. The other new ones are Texas A&M-Ga. Tech and Miss. St.-Clemson. No particular reason for that, but I thought Texas A&M-Clemson was too far apart. Arkansas-South Carolina is too far apart too, but that has been played since the SEC first expanded to 12 teams, and nothing else jumps out as making a whole lot more sense. Arkansas could play Vanderbilt, and that would make for more similar travel distances, but Vandy/Ole Miss is a much better natural and traditional rivalry. Auburn-Ga. Tech (played every year but one from 1902 {or earlier} to 1987) used to be a big deal, but since that hasn’t been played annually for some time (there have only been 2 games in the series since), I thought it best to leave Auburn-Georgia intact.

As far as the ACC teams, Florida St. has only been in the ACC for the last 20 years, so I didn’t think it was too traumatic to move them away from Georgia Tech and Clemson, who are more natural rivals of each other of course. After Florida and South Carolina, Auburn is Florida St.’s most commonly-played SEC opponent (18 prior games). Florida St. has also played Miss. St. and LSU 9 times apiece.

I came up with a North-South format, which also might make sense if Missouri is added by the SEC:


Arkansas-Texas A&M
Vanderbilt-Ole Miss
S. Carolina-Miss. St.
Georgia Tech-Auburn
Clemson-Florida St.

A lot of the annual inter-divisional rivals are the same as above. In this one, I did reinstate Auburn-Ga. Tech since the Cocktail Party (I’m not calling it whatever else they want me to call it) would necessitate getting rid of Auburn-Georgia. I made the other two current ACC teams play one another though. Also, two former Southwest Conference members (Arkansas and Texas A&M, who have been playing one another anyway) would be permanent rivals. This would get rid of the Golden Boot (LSU-Arkansas) series, but that’s only been going on modernly since SEC expansion in 1992 anyway. (If Missouri were added to the SEC, they could play Texas A&M, and LSU could still play Arkansas.) S. Carolina and Miss. St. were basically just leftovers, but they are less than 500 miles apart, about the same as Miss. St.’s current divisional trip to Arkansas.

Except for Arkansas, the current SEC West stays together and adds Texas A&M and Florida, who already has an annual game against LSU, as mentioned. Florida would once again have an annual rivalry with Auburn. The Tennessee rivalry mostly exists because of the divisional races in the late 1990s, so it’s not a major historical issue. That was before Georgia became serious competition or S. Carolina entered the picture in any meaningful way. Speaking of S. Carolina, Darth Visor wouldn’t be playing his old team as much, but I don’t think that would be the worst thing. I think the other current East teams would get used to not playing Florida without too much difficulty.

There is one glaring problem with this, which is competition. Should there really be 6 BCS titles (and an additional non-BCS-title undefeated season) since 2003 all in one division? But that changes over time. Even though two of those 6 BCS titles are held by Florida, obviously, they’ve fallen a step or two behind the likes of LSU and Alabama in the last couple of seasons. As far as the teams that would be in the North, Arkansas competed for a national title in 2006. Tennessee won one in 1998 after winning its second consecutive SEC Championship. Georgia had an argument for the BCS title game in 2007 (before winning the Sugar Bowl) and won the SEC in 2002 and 2005. The balance of power could shift again. After all, the SEC East (at least the top two teams, Florida and Tennessee) used to be head and shoulders better than the SEC West. Just for illustration, even when LSU upset Tennessee in 2001 to win its first SEC Championship game, the Tigers had lost to Florida, 44-15, earlier in the season.

I’ll try to write these weekly until completion, but I’ve only really had time for one non-rankings blog a week, so if other things come up, they might cause me to spread it out a little more.

  1. […] overlooking. I’m also doing a similar series of blogs about college football conferences (I and II so far), and I’ll be looking for input as I get into less-familiar regions of the […]

  2. […] Parts: Part I: Intro Part II: SEC/Southern Conference Part III: Big East/ACC Recombination and Big […]

  3. very useful article. thanks so much

  4. […] Entries to Series: Part I: Intro Part II: SEC/Southern Conference Part III: Big East/ACC Recombination and Big Ten+2+4 Part IV: West of the […]

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