There were some rumblings in the past week about SEC expansion. Specifically, Texas A&M and Oklahoma are interested in joining the greatest conference in the world, and get away from the Texas 12. A fourteen team SEC would make a strong conference even stronger. However, Oklahoma isn’t coming without Oklahoma State, and a fifteen team conference makes no sense. So we at 3SIB had an interesting debate on who that elusive sixteenth team would be. The top candidates: Clemson, Florida State, USF, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Kansas, and Virginia Tech.
Clemson doesn’t really add anything other than an SEC quality stadium and fan-base. Florida isn’t going to want to lose the in-state recruiting advantage so FSU and USF are out. Louisville and Georgia Tech both make geographic sense, but what do they really add? Kansas-Kentucky would be the premier regular season basketball rivalry in the country, but let’s not kid ourselves, we live in a football world. That leaves Virginia Tech. Not only do the Hokies pack a strong football punch, but for the conference it adds the huge Virginia-DC-Baltimore market into the league. It’s a win-win.
The debate then turned to divisions and schedule: How many games? How do the divisions look? I like geographic divisions. Their clean and they make sense. Big “10″ style divisions like Leaders and Legends is not my thing, in fact I think it’s a debacle. Our first thought was a North and a South. The North would be Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Kentucky and…..who? It doesn’t work. So I stuck with East and West. Now as you will see the East is clearly stronger than the West, but it makes so much more sense. Plus football is cyclical. The West will balance itself out. So here are your divisions:
East: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech
West: Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt.
How many games? We thought about nine games, Pac-10 style, but I like home and away balance. So we went with ten games. Seven division games a permanent cross-divisional rival and two rotating games. I came up with these permanent rivals:
Georgia -Ole Miss
Virginia Tech-Texas A&M.
Steve then said: “Man scheduling that will be a pain”. So I mused over that for a while. Here is what I came up with. I did my best to keep current games as close as possible to their current place on the calendar: