While most would agree that the annual Auburn vs. Georgia and Alabama vs. Tennessee games are both historically important and steeped in the rich tradition that makes the Southeastern Conference what it is today, those games may be going away — at least on an annual basis.
Nothing has been finalized at this point but according to South Carolina president Harris Pastides, that topic will be up for discussion during the league’s upcoming spring meetings in Destin. The Gamecocks permanent cross-division “rival” is Texas A&M, which makes little sense geographically or historically for either school or fan base.
Pastides shared this information after a league meeting this week in Nashville between the presidents of the 14 schools in the SEC. If you were unaware, the 2019 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament is taking place in Nashville this week.
“We voted to continue to study football scheduling,” Pastides said on Friday, according to John Whittle of 247Sports. “It’s a potentially very divisive issue – we’re talking about the inter-divisional competition that has Texas A&M be our so-called permanent Western rival. Several of us, we’d rather see more rotation, and really that’s for student-athlete well-being.
“We all loved going to Ole Miss last year and seeing that great university and watching our students have an opportunity in their four years at the university to see more of the SEC peers. There, of course, are other SEC programs that have an intra-divisional rival – Georgia and Auburn, for example – and they don’t really want to give that particular one up. Tennessee and Alabama goes back deep in history and so that will be a continued item for negotiation. I don’t know where it will end up, but we’re studying it yet again.”
It’s unclear how things would stand if Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee were the only four schools that wanted to keep permanent cross-divisional games in place. Would four schools really outweigh 10 that vote against them? Florida and LSU have each expressed some interest in moving on from that series in the past, so there may be more support for this idea than ever if those schools get on board.
In addition to potential changes to the league’s scheduling practices, Pastides also shared that the league is interested in slightly adjusting college football’s overtime rules. The SEC’s suggestion is in the event that a game goes into overtime, the first four periods would remain the same as before, however, if the game went into a fifth overtime period, the two teams would alternate two-point tries to end the game.