Pat Dye argues for SEC division realignment on 'Paul Finebaum Show'
Without football on the television every weekend, the talk surrounding the SEC begins to center around a wide variety of topics.
The current makeup of the conference’s divisions and schedules are often part of such conversations. Joining the Paul Finebaum Show on Monday, former Auburn coach and athletic director Pat Dye argued that a couple of teams should be moved around.
“(Auburn is) on the eastern part of Alabama. We’re 30 miles from Georgia. We touch Florida and Tennessee, and we need to be in the East. And Missouri needs to be in the West,” Dye said on the program. “They could build traditional games with people that are closer to them, where the fans could travel. … It’s a tremendous disadvantage to Missouri being in the East.”
Auburn moving over to the SEC East isn’t a new idea by any means. The Tigers could swap their annual cross-division rivalry with Georgia for one with Alabama, and they would be much closer to their division foes. The same argument makes sense for Missouri, which is why some believed its entry into the conference would spur the realignment.
Under current rules, however, SEC teams are only allowed to play one permanent rival from the other division, meaning a move by Auburn would force Alabama to choose between its rivalry with the Tigers or with Tennessee. Should the conference add a ninth SEC game to its schedule, something Nick Saban has advocated for, it could allow teams to maintain another annual cross-division rivalry.
This is a notion that Dye is in favor of, as well.
“(The state of Alabama) touch(es) Florida, Georgia and Tennessee,” Dye said. “We need to be in the East, and Missouri needs to be in the West. If we played nine games, we could do it. Because we could still play Alabama every year, and we’d still have our rivalry with Tennessee and Florida and Georgia like we’ve always had.
“If you can’t win three games in the conference playing nine games, you don’t deserve to go to a bowl game. The other three games can be somebody you can beat, hopefully. If you can’t win three of those kind, if you’re in the Southeastern Conference, you don’t deserve to go.”
For now, there doesn’t appear to be any indication from the conference that a change is on the horizon. That won’t prevent fans and coaches alike from engaging in this lively debate.
To listen to Dye’s entire interview with Finebaum, click here.