SEC politics could doom Georgia-Auburn as annual rivalry

georgia auburn helmetsIt’s time for Mark Richt, Greg McGarity and Jere Morehead to bite the bullet and join Alabama’s Nick Saban on the nine-game train in the SEC. That is, if maintaining Georgia-Auburn as a yearly rivalry is really UGA’s top priority when it comes to conference scheduling, as Richt and company repeatedly have said.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said Monday at an Associated Press sports editors gathering that a decision will be made soon on whether the conference goes to a nine-game schedule. The athletic directors are due to vote on the issue soon, and the SEC’s presidents and chancellors (who have the final say) will decide how to structure the football schedule from 2016 onward before the May 27-30 meetings in Destin, Slive said. In fact, Slive indicated a new schedule structure should be in place by early May (though it might not be announced until Destin).

Up for consideration are four possible scenarios: continue the current setup of playing eight conference games divided into six in your division with one permanent cross-division rival every year — like Georgia -Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee — and one rotating cross-division opponent (known as the 6-1-1 plan); play eight games without permanent rivals, with both cross-division opponents rotating (6-0-2); add a ninth conference game while keeping the cross-division rivalries; or add a ninth game and still drop the cross-divisional rivalries.

Regardless of the result of the vote, Slive conceded that no plan exists that would please all 14 schools, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported. “We tell them that all of the formats — every one of them — has a series of advantages and disadvantages,” the commissioner said. “There’s no one that lines up with all advantages and there’s no one that lines up with all disadvantages. So people are going to have to make a decision knowing that whatever decision they make is going to have some advantages and some disadvantages.”

What makes the outlook so unclear is that there are competing interests at play. It would please ESPN, which is running the SEC Network, to have a ninth conference game in place of uninteresting cupcake matches, and generally the Worldwide Leader in Sports gets what it wants. Plus, the other four major conferences either have added a ninth game to their schedules or are moving in that direction, and in the new world of the College Football Playoff, only having eight conference games could work to the SEC’s disadvantage when the selection committee starts meeting.

On the other hand, the SEC’s coaches and athletic directors generally have been against adding a ninth game (with Alabama being the notable exception) because they feel the schedule already is competitive enough and they need the scheduling flexibility (and additional revenue) from another nonconference game, which is usually at home.

Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee want to continue the every-year cross-division rivalries, but LSU’s coach and athletic director have been outspoken in opposition to those rivalries because Les Miles thinks it isn’t “equitable” for his program to face Florida every year while Bama only plays the Vols.

The conference coaches got together informally Monday to discuss the issue, though they apparently didn’t take a vote. In the past, Georgia’s Richt has been an ardent supporter of staying at eight games while keeping the permanent rivals, but at his UGA Day appearance Monday in Gainesville he said, “I’m not going to make a comment right now because I don’t know if I’m supposed to. So I’m just going to be quiet.”

Bama’s Saban, who has argued in favor of adding a ninth game primarily on the basis of fans not being too excited about cupcake games, told AL.com after the coaches’ meeting that he didn’t think there’s any support for adding a ninth conference game. But whether they stay with the 6-1-1 format or go to 6-0-2 (which would doom Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee as yearly matches) seems to be up in the air. “I don’t know if we stay with the 6-1-1 or 6-0-2,” Saban said. “I don’t know.”

SEC Football logoLSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who backs Miles’ opposition to the rivalries, told the Baton Rouge Advocate back in March that he didn’t see the ADs voting to drop them, but he added that he hoped the presidents might.

Both UGA’s Morehead and Auburn President Jay Gogue have spoken out this week saying they still support keeping the permanent cross-division rivalries.

“I absolutely support continuing the Auburn series,” Morehead told the Macon Telegraph Wednesday.

But whether Morehead and Gogue can muster the votes to keep the rivalries if the presidents opt to stay at eight conference games is a very open question.

Asked by the Telegraph whether Georgia fans should be concerned about the rivalry ending, Morehead was noncommittal. “The presidents and the athletic directors will meet and resolve the scheduling issue shortly,” he said. “There hasn’t been a resolution on any of those issues at this point. So until a vote is taken by the presidents following that meeting, I can’t predict what that outcome may be. We certainly appreciate that it is an important and longstanding rivalry for the University of Georgia.”

What it may very well come down to is that if Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee are going to be maintained as yearly games, those schools’ officials are going to have to get behind the push for adding the ninth game. While a nine-game slate with no permanent rivalries is in the hopper, that likely is just a sop to LSU purely for appearances during the discussion; most observers believe that if a ninth game is added, the rivalries will be safe.

That additional cupcake provided by the eight-game conference schedule might be more profitable in the short run, but eventually resistance to upgrading the conference schedule could exacerbate attendance problems as fans decide it’s not really worth a trip to campus in order to watch a glorified scrimmage against a 1-AA team or some nobody school with a directional name.

Simply put, asking fans at Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee to accept the loss of a traditional rivalry game with a storied history just so those programs can buy a guaranteed win is not in the best interests of college football.

As I’ve written before, if the SEC starts throwing away those longstanding traditions that have engendered the fanatical fan support that has provided the foundation of its success, what you end up with is just a feeder league for the NFL.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

63 comments Add your comment

Emory Breed

April 24th, 2014
10:32 am

Move Bama and Auburn to the EAST and move Mizzo and Vandy to the West. Problem solved. Then the Bama-Tenn and Ga. – Auburn rivalries are no longer cross rivalries and LSU can dump the Gators if we do away with the cross division. Simple.

GADevildawgs

April 24th, 2014
10:52 am

9 game schedule is the way to go. For the fans! I am so tired of cupcake games. SEC TV revenue doubled from 08-12 and is expected to go up 50% with the new deal. The revenue of a cupcake game is more than made up for with the TV money. If you dont have decent opponents then the season ticket base will start to go down..which you have seen at some of the SEC schools.

mgdawg

April 24th, 2014
10:55 am

The argument that adding a ninth conference game will take away a cupcake game and will make the fans happy is a lie. Look at UGA’s schedule this year, there are two cupcake out of conference games besides Georgia tech. As many people have said if the SEC goes to nine games they are still going to keep the two cupcakes, all it is going to do is take away the potential big ooc game. So to say that is going to appease the fans because of less cupcake games is just a blatant lie.

Saying all of that I am torn between the idea of 8 or 9 games. I like having the annual auburn game but that one constant crossover game does give some teams an advantage. I also like the idea of have two rotating crossover games because I like going to the other SEC stadiums and playing other SEC teams. The problem with a nine game schedule as I said is that with Georgia tech and two other cupcakes it leaves no room for those big ooc games.

GADevildawgs

April 24th, 2014
11:01 am

Southern University, UL Monroe,GA Southern and GT are the OOC opponents in 2015. Which big opponent are we missing out on? Three home cupcakes is too much. We can easily switch one game from cupcake to an SEC game. Your argument doesnt hold up.

WDE

April 24th, 2014
11:05 am

I am for whatever keeps Auburn on the schedule..its an old tradition and except for the years of fire hoses and Nick Fairly a rocking good time.

ugadawg2005

April 24th, 2014
11:06 am

There are 2 potential fixes to preserve rivalries and get rid of the cross-division opponent. I prefer option 2, but we’ll get neither.

1) Swap divisions for Tennessee and Auburn. This preserves the 2 big important ones and keeps the divisions relatively balanced. This does interfere with the Iron Bowl though, but that is one game rather than 2. This also reinvigorates the Tennessee/Ole Miss rivalry and the Auburn/Florida rivalry which the 1992 division split killed.

The Iron Bowl can be preserved by playing a nonconference game in years that the SEC rotation doesn’t put them together. There is some precedent for this, at least at lower levels. Valdosta State and Delta State are Gulf Coast Conference rivals and played nonconference games against each other in the past when the conference schedules didn’t have them meeting in a given year.

2) Move Missouri and Vanderbilt or Kentucky to the West and Auburn and Alabama to the East. This preserves all of the historical rivalries except Alabama’s lopsided “rivalries” with the Mississippi schools and Tennessee’s historically uncompetitive game with Vandy or Kentucky.

This would make the new SEC East the most difficult division in college football and the balance of the divisions would not be equitable (although they really aren’t equitable now with no SEC East team having won the championship since 2008). It would, however, allow Missouri to play it’s old Big 12 rival Texas A&M every year as well as set up rivalry games with teams in border states (Arkansas and Vandy or Kentucky).

If we look over the last decade or so, Missouri has been fairly competitive in the Big 12, and came close to BCS title games in 2007 and 2013. Ole Miss is on the rise, LSU has been a perennial powerhouse, and Texas A&M has seen a resurgence that I suspect will remain despite the loss of Manziel. The new SEC West would still be competitive and stronger than the ACC Coastal:

LSU
Texas A&M
Ole Miss
Miss State
Mizzou
Arkansas
Vandy/Kentucky

SEC East:
Alabama
Auburn
Georgia
Florida
Tennessee
South Carolina
Vandy or Kentucky

dawgfan

April 24th, 2014
12:20 pm

Since we won’t be winning a championship or anything meaningful under current leadership rivalries like Georgia-Auburn are about the only thing that makes it interesting anymore. It’s the most underrated rivalry in college football. I doubt there’s been a series so evenly matched over such a long period of time. It’s really amazing. And after 2010 and Nick Fairley I lost alot of respect for Auburn and don’t really care for them anymore. The hate makes it even more fun.

It would be a tragedy to lose this game. I’m already pretty disenchanted with Georgia football as it is.

Old Dawg

April 24th, 2014
1:12 pm

A 9-game conference schedule will be a detrimental move for the SEC. I understand that fans don’t like to see cupcake games. However, like I posted a month ago, if there was ever an example of too many high-profile games in one season, it was UGA in 2013. The injuries mounted up and the quality of played dropped. Florida was a similar example, with injuries beginning in spring training and carrying on throughout the season and an embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern putting a silver bullet in the heart of the program. LSU’s contention that Alabama’s rivalry with Tennessee doesn’t match the Tigers’ game with Florida dismisses the Vols’ dominance of the SEC in the 1990s. Simply put: losing a game like UGA-Auburn is detrimental to the game. The same goes for Bama-UT. The demands of college football are too much for a student-athlete, and as the demands increase, the quality of the game decreases. Nuff said. It’s time for lunch.

WDE

April 24th, 2014
1:39 pm

Old Dawg great post I find it amusing that the HAT has forgotten UT’s run in the 90’s , hell I think that they beat us something like 8 of 10 back then.

Get The Picture

April 24th, 2014
1:48 pm

9 game schedule with the cross division rivalries in place is the only way to go. ESPN will eventually require it and with the other major conferences going to it the playoff comittee wil be influenced rightfull or not if the SEC doesn’t go so it is a matter of time anyway.

Dan in AR

April 24th, 2014
2:11 pm

ESPN: 15 votes
SEC: 14 votes
The $’s win.

RiffRaff

April 24th, 2014
2:30 pm

Georgia-Auburn is a must.

In other uga news……Hutson Mason

“He’s progressed beautifully,” receiver Chris Conley said.

“Once he becomes consistent at realizing that he is the guy and that everyone is behind him, then he’s going to blow some people’s minds because he can make all those throws.”

mgdawg

April 24th, 2014
3:54 pm

gadevildawgs, there are years where there are three cupcakes. However, there will always be 2 cupcakes and Georgia tech. So say bye bye to the days of playing Clemson, boise state, Colorado, Arizona state, etc. Not to mention what if instead of playing Clemson last year uga played ole miss, which game would you rather see. No doubt a SEC game is better then a cupcake, but is a sec game better then a good ooc game?

UGA Backer

April 24th, 2014
6:48 pm

Heys guys, what is an OCC game?

Rick

April 24th, 2014
7:14 pm

If they go to a 9 game format, would this not take a home game away from UGA every other year? It is time for UGA-UF to be moved to home and home.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 24th, 2014
8:52 pm

“Ooc” is out of conference

DawgVoiceofReason

April 24th, 2014
8:56 pm

Ga-Fla should NEVER be moved to home and home. That can only have been suggested by someone who knows nothing about the game or has never been. Home and home would RUIN one of the greatest experiences in ALL of sports.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 24th, 2014
8:59 pm

Let me repeat. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER.

DawgNole

April 24th, 2014
9:06 pm

BK: “On the other hand, the SEC’s coaches and athletic directors generally have been against adding a ninth game (with Alabama being the notable exception) because they feel the schedule already is competitive enough and they need the scheduling flexibility (and additional revenue) from another nonconference game, which is usually at home.”

TRANSLATION: The cowards want to keep buying Ws by paying cupcakes a million bucks to come in and bend over.

DawgNole

April 24th, 2014
9:16 pm

mgdawg
April 24th, 2014
10:55 am
. . . The problem with a nine game schedule as I said is that with Georgia tech and two other cupcakes it leaves no room for those big ooc games.
_______________________

It leaves two other slots for “those big ooc games.” That’s PLENTY of room. Is there some sort of law that says every D-1 team must be allowed to BUY two Ws every year? The cowards who continue to insist on doing that eventually will be nudged out of playoff consideration–as well they should be!

Rabun Dawg

April 24th, 2014
9:37 pm

I know that I will be chastised for saying this, but what is the big deal with UGA vs Auburn? Yea, Souths oldest rivalry, I get that, but why the heck is it so great to keep forever? Times have changed, so why not that ? Move the Barn to the East., along with Bama, and these old rivalries continue, And, just why the heck is Mizzou in the East, when they are clearly West of the Mississippi River? Cupcakes be d…d, play some quality and as Coach Beamer said, play games you have to win, not guaranteed wins versus the cupcakes! DawgNole is right, strength of schedule will be much more important with the playoff system in place. Get rid of the guaranteed wins!!

DawgNole

April 24th, 2014
9:37 pm

WDE
April 24th, 2014
1:39 pm
Old Dawg great post I find it amusing that the HAT has forgotten UT’s run in the 90’s , hell I think that they beat us something like 8 of 10 back then.
________________________

They beat us nine straight–the only team ever to do that. Tore up Sanford’s historic hedges when we finally broke that string under Donnan.

HotDawg

April 24th, 2014
11:35 pm

Keep the 8 game traditional schedule IF all schools truly add a “name” school to their non-conf. portion.
That seems to be the true sticking point to all this mess.
If all schools find it hard to schedule a “name” school (every other year at minimum), then go to 9 conference games.

HotDawg

April 24th, 2014
11:41 pm

Btw, screw les miles.

RED DOG 77

April 24th, 2014
11:56 pm

Me?………..I like playing Auburn every year, because I just simply don’t like them at all…….cheats….and I’ll dare anyone to say……….”prove it”………they are scum………additionally playing nine SEC games increases strength and gives us a better shot at the playoffs…………..I would also say as college football changes, and it will, you really don’t know what to think………because in reality everything is about one thing and one thing only…………MONEY…………..so hold on to your hat people college football is going to take us for a ride over the next five to ten years…………I will assure you……………..RED

7576DAWG

April 25th, 2014
1:32 am

I will answer as to whether we should add a 9TH Conference game like this:
Two years ago Notre Dame went undefeated and got into the National Championship game and was slaughtered by Alabama. It was argued that at least 4 maybe 5 SEC teams could have beaten Notre Dame.
If we go to a 9- Conference Schedule don’t be surprised if we have a 2 or even 3 loss SEC team that should be in the top 10 and maybe the playoff over an undefeated Ohio State, Notre Dame or the ACC winner. The SEC is so hard up to 6 or 7 teams could win the Conference. Every year the ACC has 2 teams battling for the top spot. The Big -10 has 3 or 4 teams as does the Big -12 and Pac -12. Letting the other Conferences have another in Conference game will only give the top teams another patsy to play not much harder than a FCS team. How many top 10 teams did Georgia play in 2012 and 2013? It will even be worse if we go to A 9TH Conference game. If we ever go to an 8 team playoff then by all means lets have a 9TH game but with just 4 teams making the playoff every year the SEC could actually get 2 teams in as long as we only have 8 Conference games. We will not cannibalize our own self near as bad as if we go to 9 Conference games.

David

April 25th, 2014
1:37 am

Stay with the 6-1-1. But, still move Auburn to the East. Then make Alabama their permanent opponent . LSU could become UGA perm opponent

RxDawg

April 25th, 2014
8:35 am

Just go to 9 games already. They wanted to add more teams? Well, now they’ve got to add more games.

badbrad

April 25th, 2014
8:41 am

Bill, I think it’s a shame you have to quote the Macon Telegraph and not the AJC’s own Chip Towers. Chip is asking for story ideas since we are heading into the “dead” period. He has trouble putting out one article a week now as it is. Why doesnt AJC get a better reporter on UGA beat and why arent you featured on first page of sports instead of having us click on MORE UGA to try to find you. I appreciate your work.

RxDawg

April 25th, 2014
8:53 am

7576 DAWG makes a really good point in his post. That’s a very likely scenario. Just leave it at 6-1-1. So what if some teams don’t play each other for a very long time. That’s a lot better then disrupting teams that have been playing each other for a very long time. Screw Miles and his whinning.

PRPL DAWG

April 25th, 2014
9:25 am

Earlier posters I thinnk have the logical answer, though not goodfor our Dawgs. Move Vandy and Mo. west, and Al and Aub east. Also upgrade cupcakes. Contribution plus season ticket purchas is a lot of money for Troy and Charleston – to be played at 1 pm. One is understandable, given the tought SEC. Does AL play William or Mary this year? Worst non coonference schedule in USA possibly.

GO DAWGS!!

PRPL DAWG

April 25th, 2014
9:27 am

And count only division games for division title.DUH. Unless there is a tie, division title winner plays for the championship. The key word is FAIR.

RxDawg

April 25th, 2014
9:29 am

You can’t start moving teams around. It will either dirupt the iron bowl (keeping rivalries is the whole reason for this) or it will shift the power too much to the east. It just over complicates things.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

April 25th, 2014
10:04 am

I dont see the UGA administration wanting to add more tough opponents to the schedule

they know that will hurt our chances to win the mythical “10 Victories in a season National Championship” and a trip somewhere in Florida as a reward

the kool-aiders wont have much to brag about with 7-5, 8-4 seasons and a Liberty Bowl appearance

DawgNole

April 25th, 2014
10:20 am

PRPL DAWG
April 25th, 2014
9:25 am
. . . upgrade cupcakes. Contribution plus season ticket purchas is a lot of money for Troy and Charleston – to be played at 1 pm. One is understandable . . . .
_________________________

Co-sign!

DawgNole

April 25th, 2014
10:22 am

“That additional cupcake provided by the eight-game conference schedule might be more profitable in the short run, but eventually resistance to upgrading the conference schedule could exacerbate attendance problems as fans decide it’s not really worth a trip to campus in order to watch a glorified scrimmage against a 1-AA team or some nobody school with a directional name.” – BK
______________________

This is more like it, BK. NOW you’re getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

April 25th, 2014
10:47 am

Fans wont be showing up either if we have more additional losses cause we had to play additional tougher opponents

BaltDawg

April 25th, 2014
11:08 am

I understand the 9-game appeal but it’s an easier call for Saban as Bama’s rivalry game is a division game (Auburn). For UGA, S Carolina and Florida, it’s tougher as their rivalry games are OOC games. Hence, for Florida, it would mean 9 SEC games + FSU.

old dog

April 25th, 2014
1:03 pm

One of the oldest rivalries in the nation in any sport……….

Ed

April 25th, 2014
3:57 pm

“Les Miles thinks it isn’t “equitable” for his program to face Florida every year while Bama only plays the Vols.”

Les should check the all-time records. The Vols have more SEC titles than Florida and are second only to Alabama all-time. They’ve been down for quite awhile now, but there will be plenty of years where you’d rather play Florida than Tennessee again. These things run in cycles.

Bill King

April 25th, 2014
4:24 pm

Good point, Ed. It’s all cyclical.

dawgfan

April 25th, 2014
5:56 pm

Flat is right. Tougher opponents are not good for our annual quest for a magical 2 loss season and Cap One Bowl berth. If we want to crack the Top 15 once every 3 or 4 years we need a healthy diet of cupcakes.

That’s just Mark Richt Football.

OgeecheeDawg

April 25th, 2014
6:07 pm

David
I like it. All those in favor say I. All those opposed say no. In the opinion of the chair the I’s have it.

BabsTolstoy2

April 25th, 2014
8:44 pm

As the Auburn child of Tech and UGA grads I say this thing must at all cost be saved. I still miss Tech with a profound pang. And as been said since 2010 it has taken on a little extra venom. Which suits me fine. Especially since things are trending our way. A little open field running to set things right.
As for trends the Vols are one snake bit program. I almost pity them. Which is of course precisely what they want from an Auburn guy. I think they’ll be back and with a bad attitude soon enough. Where there’s a will there’s a way and I don’t think their will is lacking

DawgNole

April 25th, 2014
9:57 pm

BaltDawg
April 25th, 2014
11:08 am
I understand the 9-game appeal but it’s an easier call for Saban as Bama’s rivalry game is a division game (Auburn). For UGA, S Carolina and Florida, it’s tougher as their rivalry games are OOC games. Hence, for Florida, it would mean 9 SEC games + FSU.
______________________

Have you seen fla’s OOC schedule? Aside from FSU, it’s disgraceful. Playing 9 SEC games would STILL leave them room for two of the cupcakes the so love to host (except for Ga Southern, of course).

DawgNole

April 25th, 2014
9:57 pm

“they” so love to host . . . .

DawgNole

April 25th, 2014
10:00 pm

“Simply put, asking fans at Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee to accept the loss of a traditional rivalry game with a storied history just so those programs can buy a guaranteed win is not in the best interests of college football.” – BK
________________________

Good stuff, BK. Glad to see you coming around on the shameful practice of buying Ws.

Mobile Dawg

April 25th, 2014
10:37 pm

Weighing in, it’s all in the hands of the fans and supporters. The power is in the purse. If you support UGA football regardless of the direction we’re going you’re to blame. Me, I’m looking for a new boat to invest my money in. And a fine one it will buy compared to the contribution, ticket price, and expenditures related to GA football. I can enjoy my new boat and listen to it on the airwaves for less. The new “Georgia Way”.

RED DOG 77

April 26th, 2014
12:19 am

Awe common Mobile you got the big bucks my man, you can afford it………..boat tickets and all. I ‘ve read you too many times to know you are Bulldog through and through………….The gentleman earlier posted about college football being cyclical……..I believe it is, I also believe defense is the key and I believe Pruitt will get us there…………Mobile, we may not always agree, but I haven’t givin’ up on you, you’re a Dawg and I respect you…………..unlike these imposters dawgnofan ect……………have a good evening……….and GO DAWGS……………..RED

dawgfan

April 26th, 2014
8:59 am

I agree that defense is the key. That being the case, why were we told after 6 straight seasons of subpar defense that “continuity is a good thing?” Why did it take an underperforming DC leaving on his own for more money to make a change?

It all doesn’t speak very well of the leadership being provided for this football program.