Go East, Auburn … and take Alabama with you

Auburn TigersAuburn has no problem with moving to the SEC East. In fact, one could say it wants to move to the SEC East, since the Auburn people seem to be the only ones suggesting it every year.

Pat Dye here. Gus Malzahn there. 

You can bet the so-called “soft” SEC East looks tempting to the Tigers.

But what if rival Alabama also made the jump? Still tempting?

History is involved

Understood, Auburn historically has more connection to teams in the East. Before the conference was split into two divisions, Auburn’s biggest rivals outside of Alabama were Tennessee, Florida and Georgia (all currently in the SEC East). The Auburn-Georgia rivalry is one of the oldest, continuous rivalries in the nation.

The Tigers rarely played LSU. They hardly ever played Ole Miss.

And understood, of course, geographically it makes sense to have Missouri in the West and Auburn in the East.

But upon further review …

SEC East is perceived weaker than the West, but, even if that’s true, talent is cyclical. In the mid-1990s through early 2000s, the SEC West was considered weak (Tennessee and Florida were the top teams in the league). No one should be eager to jump into the East. Fortunes can change in a moment.

Also, Auburn’s rivalries might be renewed, but others might go away, chiefly Alabama-Tennessee.

And is the travel really that taxing to Missouri? The distance from Columbia, Mo., to Athens, Ga., is 735 miles. The distance from Columbia, Mo., to College Station, Texas, is 760 miles. Or if we’re concerned with geography, why not make it SEC North and South and swap Arkansas and Florida?

Bringing a friend, er, foe

But consider this …

If Auburn were to move to the SEC East, it still would keep Alabama as it’s annual, regular-season finale. It’s not that far-fetched to believe that the two would meet in the finale either undefeated or with one loss in the SEC. And, therefore, the loser of the game likely would still go to the SEC Championship as the respective division champ. That means the two teams could face each other in back-t0-back games. Not sure even Nick Saban would stand for that.

Unless, of course, there were SEC semifinals.

To the Alabama fan thinking ”big deal, the Tide will wipe Auburn out twice,” that’s not good. And when I say that’s not good, that’s not good for the conference. And when I say that, I mean the SEC likely could lose money with the prospect of back-to-back meetings ending up in blowouts. Alabama fan might want to see that, but no network does.

Unless, of course, there were SEC semifinals.

Now something that makes sense

Alabama is not going to the East. And, likely, neither is Auburn.

But …

With expansion looming, and some are predicting Oklahoma is wanting to join the SEC, moving Auburn AND Alabama to the East could be the right move.

Alabama wouldn’t be breaking any big rivalry with the West. Even LSU likely would remain on the the Tide’s schedule. And, truthfully, LSU is the only rivalry worth salvaging (sorry, Ole Miss and Mississippi State fan).

Other headlines

Another suit against Baylor: A seventh Title IX lawsuit has been filed against Baylor, alleging the plaintiff was drugged and raped by as many as eight football players.

According to The Waco Tribune, the plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit as “Jane Doe,” remembers hearing the players yell, “Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!” following the rape in an off-campus apartment with glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, according to the suit.

The suit also claimed these rapes were part of a systematic hazing process and considered “a bonding experience by the players.”

How to make the CFP Championship even longer: The College Football Playoff is taking direction from the Super Bowl and adding a celebrity guest halftime performer … in addition to the schools’ respective marching band. ESPN and the CFP say the halftime show will be playe d

The College Football Playoff is bringing a Super Bowl-style halftime show to the national championship game without bumping the marching bands.

ESPN and the College Football Playoff say that a musical guest will perform the halftime show at Centennial Olympic Park, near the Mercedes-Benze Stadium (site of the Jan. 8, 2018, game).

 

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