Ninth SEC Football Game Possibilities

There seems to be more talk about football administration – a football playoff system, how the Southeastern Conference should be aligned, etc. – than there is about football these days. As for the SEC, we've heard Steve Spurrier and Les Miles bemoaning East-West travails, if not travels. Pat Dye wants Auburn to move to the East.

The one thought we have heard that would add luster to the SEC football season is that of Alabama Coach Nick Saban. He pointed out that the league had expanded by 15 per cent (actually about 16.75 per cent for you math fiends), and yet the number of league games has not increased. Saban proposed league teams playing a ninth game.

One argument against (not from Saban, obviously, who doesn't concern himself too much with where a game is played) is that every other year a team would have five conference road games and only four SEC home games. Many coaches like the idea of being able to buy four wins with non-conference games. Although the conference split up about $200 million from bowl, television, etc. at the end of last year, some athletics directors also fear the loss of a home game against a team it gets cheap.

A legitimate thought is why worry about the schedule now. The SEC seems poised to expand again to 16 teams.

But suppose the conference agreed with Saban's proposal of a ninth game. It might be on a rotating basis (a 6-1-2 formula, six games against the other teams in the division, one permanent from the other division, and two rotating from the other division) or it might be 6-2-1 (two permanent, one rotating).

Here are the games not currently scheduled for SEC competition that we would recommend:

Alabama vs. Vanderbilt. This was one of Alabama's oldest rivalries until the start of expansion. True, the Commodores weren't often competitive, but there was a camaraderie in the fan base and among administrators and coaching staffs. For some reason, there is a long history of Tuscaloosa students heading to Vanderbilt and Nashville students attending Alabama. Bama has a large alumni base in Nashville, and many Vandy grads live in Tuscaloosa. Both teams stress athletics and hate orange. It's an easy trip, and Bama fans love going to Nashville – except for the Music City Bowl. No-brainer.

Arkansas vs. Missouri – This is a natural for universities in states with touching borders and both have good football tradition, almost equal to their basketball.

Auburn vs. Florida – Auburn lost a couple of rivals with SEC expansion, and this would reunite the Tigers with one of those. Gainesville is a long trip for a lot of fan bases, but not too bad for Auburn (and, by the same token, an easy trip for Gators fans).

LSU vs. South Carolina – Spurrier and Miles can meet at midfield before the game and commiserate about how it's too bad that the game has to count in the SEC standings, with Miles adding that the states don't touch and he hates playing Florida, too, although the Honey Badger don't care.

Ole Miss vs. Tennessee – Although both teams have a tradition of powerhouse teams, now they have mostly memories. It would be a great game for television to show all the Mannings in attendance. Of which, unfortunately for Ole Miss and Tennessee, there are no more.

Mississippi State vs. Georgia – It's Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs (whoo! whoo!), but mainly it satisfies the criteria that Georgia not have to play a powerhouse. As long as UGA can avoid Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU every year, the Richt reign should be safe.

Texas A&M vs. Kentucky – A great opportunity for fans to get together and talk about how great things were when their coach was Paul Bryant.

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