Dreams of Divisional Realignment
Though Missouri did receive a majority of votes to be accepted to the world’s greatest football conference, SEC reps did not unanimously vote to approve Mizzou as they did Texas A&M. A key component of whom the 14th SEC member will be is how they are to fit into the footprint of the SEC geographic map. Adding a solid program from a populated state with big TV region(s) is primary; secondary may be getting a good fit to keep as many traditional rivalries intact as possible. For the record I am pro-expansion and pro-Mizzou; my dad lived there late in his life and I spent quality time there and love the state. The Dawgs Nation partying on a Friday night in Branson would be awesome. If not Mizzou, then who? Virginia Tech as an addition to the SEC East is the single best fit across the entire college football landscape. Washington, D.C. television market; great football fans; by far the top college football program in the ACC. If Missouri is eventually accepted, and make no mistake about this: a 14th team will be accepted, here is a potential realistic divisional realignment. Take all the schools from states that touch the Gulf of Mexico and group them in one powerful division, and then the rest of the schools would go into the other division. The oldest continuous college football rivalry in the Deep South (UGA-Auburn) would probably be sacrificed in this model to keep the Georgia-Florida game as our one consistent out of division matchup. All states would retain their instate rivals as divisional rivals. Though the “Gulf Division” would appear to be the strongest football division in the country most seasons, the creation of a “Dixie Division” would then allow the SEC to have perhaps the top basketball division in the NCAA many years as well.
This is the type of stuff I contemplate while awaiting kickoff. Georgia faces Tennessee tonight, a program that was actually not a traditional historic rival until the SEC became the first college football conference to create divisions and have a championship game. Point being: changes happens and new rivalries can fairly soon be just as big as old ones. The Georgia-Tennessee rivalry is in many ways these days bigger than that of the rivalry with what has for over a hundred years been our only (so-called for our many academic collaborations, mostly in agriculture) “sister school” – Auburn. It would be a shame to see that game stopped after we just beat them four-of-five and with career professional Cam Newton now out of amateur athletics, but we could win that Dixie Division most years.