The Southeastern Conference, the nation’s best, isn’t immune to these alterations. Missouri’s now in the league. So, too, is Texas A&M. With a television footprint stretching from Kansas City to the Carolina coast to Florida, the SEC isn’t merely the league of the Deep South anymore.
Nevertheless, let’s make a few things clear about this change:
Alabama needs to play Tennessee. And Auburn needs to play Georgia.
Count us among the disturbed to hear that an option for future SEC schedules is doing away with the cross-division rival games. Some of those games are among the league’s best: Alabama-Tennessee (think Third Saturday in October), Auburn-Georgia (oldest rivalry in the Deep South), even LSU-Florida (two of the SEC’s best teams the last 20 years).
Granted, Commissioner Mike Slive and the league’s athletics directors have a tough task. A 14-team league split in two divisions has to decide how many league games to play (eight or nine) and what sacred cows can be sacrificed for the greater good. Somewhere in that discussion are the billion-dollar TV contracts that can result from scheduling marquee teams in historic, tradition-filled games.
We can handle change. (We’ve put up with Arkansas and South Carolina for 20 years.) We can accept that more change is coming. But schedules that don’t feature Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia are schedules the SEC should avoid.
There is change. There also are mistakes.