In 1992 The SEC added Arkansas and South Carolina to the conference to allow a relatively unknown NCAA rule to happen. It stated that if a conference were to have 12 teams in its conference then that conference can add an optional extra championship game between the winners of two six team divisions. The SEC experimented with this in 1992 and it featured a 3 loss Florida team against undefeated Alabama. Having lived in Alabama most of my life, this game has been talked about a lot. But what if Florida had won that game? Would Conference Championships exist? After all other conferences would not have liked the fact that Alabama who was on its way to an undefeated season wouldn’t have even been able to play for a National Championship. What if Florida defeated Alabama last year or if Missouri defeated Alabama the year before that? Would the best conference in the country be left out of the College Football Playoff just because we have to have the winners of both divisions meet in the Championship Game?
Well first let me say that the SEC has been very lucky about not having upsets in SEC Championship games. The Best team wins when the teams are not even. Even in 1998 when 3 loss MSU won the SEC West, #1 Tennessee still won. But how much more exciting would a 1998 Tennessee Florida rematch have been? Or a MSU Alabama 2014 rematch?
While such things were not possible before, the NCAA recently passed new legislation that allows for conferences to only have 10 teams to have a conference championship game and that conferences do not have to have divisions. So if you are wondering why everyone went to divisions, its because it wasn't until recently that the NCAA allowed for conferences to abolish divisions.
As much crap as I give the Big 12, what they are doing is smart
Big 12 will not have divisions in 2017. Will match top 2 teams in conference title game— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 28, 2016
They are essentially allowing for a team to get a late win against a top opponent. Now Baylor can reface West Virginia in the title game and that team could get another top 25 win with a conference championship. This idea really has no downsides besides a rematch which happens in SEC Championship games already. In 2010 Auburn played South Carolina twice.
By also abolishing divisions, it allows for SEC teams to actually play each other. Why in the world is it going to be 15 years from the time MSU first went to Florida to the next? Heck routinely scheduled home and home non conference series play more often than that. By abolishing divisions you can give every SEC team lets say 3 permanent rivals that they play each year and 5 rotating opponents. Now the 5 will be a home and home and not just a one game at one teams stadium. This will allow for SEC Teams to play each other at every SEC Stadium and it will avoid this drought of not playing teams. Here is what I came up with as far as the 3 permanent opponents for every SEC Team:
Alabama: Auburn, Tennessee, LSU
Auburn: Georgia, Alabama, Florida
Arkansas: LSU, Missouri, Texas A&M
Florida: Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn
Georgia: Florida, Auburn, South Carolina
Kentucky: Vanderbilt, Missouri, Mississippi State
LSU: Arkansas, Texas A&M, Alabama
Mississippi: Mississippi State, Texas A&M, South Carolina
Mississippi State: Mississippi, Kentucky, South Carolina
Missouri: Arkansas, Kentucky, Vanderbilt
South Carolina: Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State
Tennessee: Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt
Texas A&M: LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi
Vanderbilt: Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri
This was a really hard list to come up with. I tried to balance it out for every team with historical success, historical rivalries, geography, and match ups that excite the College Football World.
Honestly coming up with MSU, South Carolina, and Ole Miss were the 3 toughest teams to do. So naturally having them all playing each other isn't a shocker there.
From the MSU side of things we are Alabama and LSUS most played opponent and Auburn’s 2nd most played opponent. I could see MSU having Auburn as one of their 3 rivals as the schools are similar but definitely not Alabama or LSU as they have other opponents they'd rather play. Kentucky and South Carolina were MSU’s 2 SEC permanent rivals before the SEC just made Kentucky MSU’s 1 rival.
I know Ole Miss and LSU have this Magnolia Bowl thing going but I doubt anyone outside of Oxford even knows or cares that it exists. LSU cares more about Alabama. LSU vs Texas A&M is a really solid rivalry. And LSU-Arkansas used to be the Thanksgiving treat that I always loved watching. Texas A&M and Ole Miss just happened because they are both in the SEC West and they both have similar fun offenses that could make for a fun shootout.
All of the other rivalries are pretty self explanatory. And with 5 other conference teams to play 10 teams, you will have a home and home with every sec team in 3-5 years. Which means that every SEC team will play every SEC Team and that every team will have an opportunity to go to almost every SEC Stadium. Plus since there are 8 conference games, the SEC can still keep the power 5 non conference game rule.
Just like in Basketball when the SEC East became way to powerful for the SEC West, the SEC West has become too powerful for the SEC East in football. And this is not only a smart move for the SEC, It is the best move.
Hey SEC you can even take my list of permanent rivals. I won’t complain. Just make it happen because having the same SEC teams play the same teams over and over again is boring. MSU plays: SEC East, Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi, and Texas A&M every year. That means MSU misses out on 5 SEC Teams every year that rotate every 6 years and every 12 years to host that same team again. How is that logical?
For all those ripping Big 12 for no-divisions decision & championship game rematch, enjoy your Alabama-Kentucky rematch in SEC title game— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 30, 2016
Do you really want Alabama to face Kentucky in the SEC Title game? Or would you rather have a rematch against LSU, Texas A&M or Auburn which would make for must see TV and allow for another signature win against a top opponent? Again rematches already happen in SEC Title Games and Alabama Kentucky this year would be a rematch.
So what do you think? Should the SEC get rid of divisions? Do you agree with my 3 permanent rivals and the teams listed as the 3 permanent rivals? Leave a Comment below about your thoughts.