Without reservation I think Texas A&M is a great addition to the league for football and other sports, too, because the Aggies have a strong all-around athletic program, 50,000 students and a large and passionate fan base.
Texas A&M has plenty of tradition in football so the Aggies bring a lot to the league, including a huge television market in the state of Texas, which is a primary consideration for conferences these days when deciding on expansion because of the amount of money TV contracts are generating.
With the Aggies in the league and expected to be a member of the SEC West for football, what is now up in the air is where Auburn will be? If the Tigers go to the SEC East Division, it could really complicate the Iron Bowl. You wouldn't want to play Alabama the last week of the regular season and then have to turn around and play them a week later in the SEC Championship Game. That doesn't make sense.
The other possibility would be to play the Iron Bowl earlier in the year and get on with your schedule for the rest of the season. That would be different because I know that football teams can be drastically different earlier in the year than they are at the end of the year.
A lot of people will say it will take a lot of hype out of the season for Auburn if the Tigers lose to Alabama and the same thing for Alabama if it loses to Auburn. I don't know how that would play out, but the people who are worried about such a change could be right and it does complicate the issue.
I was still coaching at Auburn when the SEC split into East and West divisions for football. At that time I thought Auburn should have been put in the East to play its natural rivals, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, and Kentucky should have been put in the SEC West. That is not the way the league presidents voted, but it hasn't turned out bad for Auburn.
On the subject of Auburn, the Tigers didn't play well on either side of the ball against Florida Atlantic Saturday night and I am not surprised. People don't want to hear this, but I will guarantee you that Florida Atlantic was a better team when Auburn played them than it was three weeks ago in the opener vs. Florida and two weeks ago vs. Michigan State because Florida Atlantic had an extra week to get rested and get ready to play at Auburn. Having two weeks to prepare for a game can help a team get better, especially early in the season.
However, those circumstances don't eliminate the fact the Tigers didn't play well in game four and need to improve. The most impressive guy on the Auburn team is the kicker, Cody Parkey. He is a major asset to the Tigers with his touchbacks and field goals.
Cody Parkey works on his field goals in practice with Ryan White the holder.
Next up for Auburn is what I think will be an interesting game, assuming the Tigers are up to the task of making it interesting, and I think they will. South Carolina is 4-0 and ranked in the Top 10 and hasn't looked very good doing it. I am curious to see if Auburn is up to the challenge of forcing South Carolina into the type of mistakes the Gamecocks have been making against other folks this season.
Auburn suffered its only loss on its first road trip of the season facing a Clemson team that might be better than predicted. The fact that Clemson's offense did similar things to Florida State's defense as it did against Auburn's defense shows me that Clemson has a good team.
Florida State's defense was supposed to be one of the best in the country, but Clemson did a great job of moving the football vs. the Seminoles. That No. 2 for Clemson, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, is a really dynamic player. That was obvious as he caused Auburn problems and he did the same thing to FSU. He is big, strong, fast and dominating--just a great young player. With Clemson's quarterback also playing great football that team has gotten tougher to beat.
Back in the SEC there was a big game over the weekend in Tuscaloosa as Alabama had no problem in getting past Arkansas. I think that game showed that a strong defense with an aggressive and effective pass rush can reduce almost any quarterback into being average. That is what Alabama's defense did to the kid at Arkansas, Tyler Wilson. About the middle of the second half it looked he didn't want any part of being out there.
The way Alabama is playing this year it will be an upset if anybody in the conference beats that team this year because of a strong defense and the ability to run the football, along with a quarterback who has improved and is now playing solid football.
While I think Alabama will stay unbeaten again this week, the Tide could certainly suffer a loss with a tough road trip to Florida if the team is not ready to play a good game. Florida, to me, looks like old Florida. The Gators have speed and playmakers, they are playing great defense and have got their quarterback settled down. The Gators are running the football and they have always had players. Coach (Will) Muschamp has got them playing well so you can bet your life Florida is going to be ready to play this Saturday.
The big non-conference test for an SEC team in week four was LSU taking its strong defense to Morgantown to face West Virginia. LSU just kept pounding and pounding and pounding, and finally was able to wear down the Mountaineers and win going away in a real hostile environment.
My opinion is that if LSU and Alabama were playing in Baton Rouge this season, I would like LSU?to win, but with the game in Tuscaloosa I think Alabama is the favorite.
Another interesting game for an SEC team in week four was Mississippi State having to go into overtime to outlast Louisiana Tech. I could see that tight game coming with Mississippi State being crippled up due to injuries and Louisiana Tech having a team that can score.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.