Maybe you’re like me and your initial thought when you heard the news about Texas and Oklahoma possibly joining the SEC was one of disdain. I don’t much care for OU, but being in the same league with Texas was tiresome. For a school with as much bluster as they have, their achievements are mild in comparison. They spend, and wield as much power as they can, and continue to be wonderful underachievers.
With that said, I’ve come around the idea because it will make the SEC far and away the best conference in college sports. Both Texas and Oklahoma are really good in a LOT of other sports, including basketball and football, and it would also improve the league for women’s hoops, softball, and volleyball, too.
After all, winning the league becomes nearly as big of a challenge as winning a national championship, and preparing yourself for that ultimate goal... well you might as well go through the gauntlet of the league first.
But once the move is made the logistics of competing in a 16 team becomes a real concern.
Most of the discussion within the SEC has been the idea of four 4 team pods. Even the SEC Network got in on the discussion:
SEC Network, the league’s own TV channel, has some ideas. pic.twitter.com/MSnth9IYMM— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 22, 2021
The problem with attempting to divide up a league with several LONG held rivalries is everyone is going to insist that you cannot separate team X and team Y because of this rivalry. So what are the great rivalries of the SEC, other than the national monument we call the Battle Line Rivalry between Missouri and Arkansas? First, the Cross-Division permanent rivals are (SEC East first, West second):
- Kentucky-Mississippi State
- Vanderbilt-Ole Miss
- South Carolina-Texas A&M
Of those, only Tennessee v Alabama, Georgia v Auburn, and Florida v LSU feel like historic rivalries. In fact Georgia and Auburn have played against each other more than any other in the conference. UT and Bama have their ‘3rd Saturday in October’ thing, and Florida/LSU is more of a recent thing, but it’s definitely taken on a healthy level of hatred in that time.
So keeping that in mind, you can preserve rivalries outside of a pod with cross-pod permanent rivals. What intra-division rivalries does the SEC want to make sure face each other every year while still creating a new disruption to the schedule by adding Texas and Oklahoma?
- The Iron Bowl: Alabama vs Auburn
- The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party: Georgia vs Florida
- The Egg Bowl: Ole Miss vs Mississippi State
If I’m forgetting any, feel free to leave them in the comments, as a newish member to the league and I’m still learning who hates who. And everyone seems to hate Tennessee so it’s hard to tell who their biggest rival is… Vandy, maybe?
So here are a few ideas...
- Mizzou, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee
- Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M
- Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, LSU
- Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn
This is taking the Southeastern most team, Florida, and matching them with the 3 closest schools. Then taking the northern most team and keeping them north with the other northern teams, same with the west, and the leftovers in the middle. The pros: Mizzou can keep a cross divisional rivalry with Arkansas, the Red River rivalry is guaranteed to stay in tact, and the Egg Bowl and the Cocktail Party are all intra-division. The cons here is Alabama would have to choose either the Iron Bowl or the matchup against Tennessee as cross-divisional.
- Mizzou, Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma
- Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU
- Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia
- Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina
This is basically grouping the old Big 12 teams together, and then trying to keep as many of the truly historical rivalries there. The pros: re-establishing the “new” SEC schools in familiar territory. Being able to keep the existing cross divisional games in place also... for the most part. The cons: that third pod is whoa, and LSU has some clear sailing. So the balance is a bit off, at least in the current power structure. Also, I’m sure A&M would hate being stuck back with Texas.
- Mizzou, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Oklahoma
- Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Texas, LSU
- Alabama, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Kentucky
- South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee
This is trying to keep regional rivalries alive, most of the traditions alive, and keeping as much balance alive as well. I think this can work if you set up cross pod rivalries. Pros: this is almost like a seeded pod system with each of the top ranked schools being given some level of balance. I personally like this pod for Mizzou because you get Oklahoma back on the schedule as your regional measuring stick, you preserve the rivalry with Arkansas, and there’s a burgeoning rivalry with Ole Miss there which feels like it could work. The cons: While you can keep Alabama with both Auburn and Tennessee (as a cross regional opponent), this is still leaving a lot on the table in having to work out the logistics.
Which of these is your favorite? And is there a Pod you think works better? Lets list em all out!
Which SEC "Pod" do you like best?
This poll is closed
SEC Network Pods