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So You Want To Change The SEC’s Divisions?

Let’s send Auburn to the East. Oh, and bring half the West along.

It’s just crazy enough to work

Debating the merits of claiming National Championships... Fretting over high preseason rankings... Arguing over conference divisions and which of your rivals are your real rivals...

These are the things we poor souls have to ponder as spring sports end and yet we find football tortuously far away. This summer’s topic: should Auburn move the SEC East?

#CFBTwitter’s brightest thinkers have offered their reasons for and against the move, but most would blissfully allow the current divisions to stand as they are.

Some want to simply swap Auburn and Missouri. Alabama would no longer be able to play both Auburn and Tennessee, but it does make the most geographical sense. Even Gus says so. Just look how straight that line is!

Taking it one step further, Alabama could join Auburn in crossing the line in exchange for Vandy. I guess we could sacrifice a little geographical sense for the sake of maintaining Alabama’s ego most important rivalries.

Still, it’s kind of boring, right? See, the problem is that we’ve been too closed minded with this whole East-West thing. What if I told you that East and West were not some inherent characteristic of the Southeastern Conference, but just some man-made construct killing off decades-old rivalries for the sake of geography. Geography?!?!?

So, as an early adopter of so-called pods and someone who has stood against gerrymandering in college conferences, I feel like I have the knowledge and experience to waste a few minutes of your day open your eyes to new and exciting division possibilities. Some you’ve never dreamed of.

First, the current East-West line curiously makes the East more like northeast and the West more like southwest. The Southeastern Conference doesn’t even have a southeastern division. Let’s fix that.

This is what happens when someone moves Alabama and Auburn to the East and gets caught up in the fun and drags LSU and Mississippi State over, too. If they keep rotating the division line a little more, they’ll get this.

The current PAC-12 divisions are and the former Big12 divisions were split this way, so why not the SEC? It turns out Oxford, Athens, and Columbia are all within one degree of latitude, but Georgia makes the cut for the South Division. And because of that, the SEC South has something in common with the old Big12 South. Nearly all of the traditionally good teams are there. But we can take it a step further...

When the SEC first split into divisions in 1992, the divisions evenly split the six traditional powers — Alabama, Auburn, and LSU to the West and Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee in the East. Every conference championship since some time in the 70s has been won by one of those six teams. So just for the heck of it, why not lump them all in one division? I’m pretty sure all the rivalries anybody cares about would remain intact (like LSU-Florida), so the only concern would be the strength of schedule inequality, and no one’s ever complained about that.

If we’re going to separate the haves and have-nots, perhaps we can ditch geography altogether and set up a promotion/relegation system — within the conference!

See, the “Premier League” would initially consist of the big six, plus Missouri — the last of the “others” to even make the conference title game. Only the seven teams in that league would have a chance at the championship. The seven teams in the other league would be playing for the right to join the premier league next year, taking the place of the premier league’s worst team.

Okay, that’s a little out there. If we go back to geography, maybe we need to get a little more creative. Something like this.

There’s no rule against it, so I’m throwing it out there.

So far, we’ve only considered two dimensions — latitude and longitude — as the determining factors in division making. When we consider the third dimension — elevation — and the effects of the sea level rising 60 meters, we get another possibility.

[insert SEC Coaches as Mad Max Characters list here]

Well, if we’re gonna consider three dimensions, what stops us from considering the fourth? Who’s with me?

These are the years each school started its football program. We could split the teams up somewhere between 1892 and 1893, but too many teams started in 1892 to make it an easy division. Ah, screw it. Let’s just go to my favorite possible division.

Too many SEC teams use red as their primary color. Way too many. I mean, it’s kind of stupid how many. They may gussy it up and call it some frilly name like “crimson” or “garnet,” but we all know it’s red. To make matters worse, only one of them dares to sully their precious red with another color not black or white.

So they should all have to play each other.

The rest of the SEC is either primarily yellow gold, orange, or blue and makes for a mighty fine-looking division.

You know what. Never mind. If we really want to find out the best way to split the conference into divisions, we should just try different combinations every year until we’ve done them all and then pick the best one.

Deal? Deal. And with that, I promise not to talk about Auburn permanently moving to the East until the summer of 5449. I just hope we don’t start that year in the top-10.