Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at the implications of a potential Auburn move to the SEC East.
What an Auburn move to the East would mean for Georgia
We’ve reached the inevitable point in the offseason where we are once again talking about Auburn joining the SEC East. With little to talk about at this time of year, the chatter about Auburn taking its ball over to the weaker of the SEC’s divisions always rises up. And it always seems to be just that: chatter.
It started with former Auburn coach Pat Dye bringing up the idea on the radio a few weeks ago. Since then, Gus Malzahn admitted that an Auburn exodus to the East “makes sense,” a sentiment echoed by Auburn AD Jay Jacobs. This year has a slightly different tone, though, at least by the reckoning of Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated. According to Staples, Jacobs adroitly timed his comments, on the eve of the SEC’s spring meetings in Destin, Fla., which are happening as we write. With nothing much else of interest on the docket — a potential change in graduate transfer rules excluded — now is the time to turn any chatter into something more concrete. From Staples:
If moving to the East didn’t interest Auburn, Jacobs would have shot down the questions. He wouldn’t have expounded on the topic, which he did throughout the interview. This is something Auburn wants — and not only because of a burning desire to finally make the SEC’s divisional alignment geographically correct.
The move makes sense on the surface, specifically for the team that would go in the other direction, Missouri. Mizzou has never made much sense in the East. Putting the Tigers in the West would surround them with more traditional rivals, as well as ease some of the travel burden for Missouri teams, as Jacobs noted.
The biggest obstacle, as Jacobs also noted, would be a reconfiguration of the division crossover opponents in football and trying to make every team affected by the changes happy with its new cross-division opponent.
“Are we willing to give up the traditional rivalries?” Jacobs said on WNSP Sports Radio. “When you look around the nation at conferences that have done realignment, they’ve lost some of those rivalries. Has that helped them or hurt them? I don’t really know. What it would take to do that was for us to say, ‘We’re not going to play the same traditional rivalries that we have in the past. We’re going to go to the East.’ Or does that matter? Do you look at a different way of scheduling altogether? We’re certainly open to it.”
The “we” Jacobs refers to is the SEC, not Auburn, because Auburn likely wouldn’t have to give up any traditional rivalries. As you’re all well-aware, the Tigers’ crossover opponent is Georgia. So, a move to the East would keep that matchup intact and even make it more important because of the division implications. Obviously, Auburn’s new crossover opponent would be Alabama, because the Iron Bowl isn’t going anywhere unless you want riots of equal size in Tuscaloosa, Auburn and the CBS corporate offices. So, in truth, it doesn’t change Auburn’s schedule at all.
The one rivalry it would certainly destroy is Alabama-Tennessee. As much fun as that game is, and as deep a history as it has, I’m not sure many Vols would protest, other than simply for show. Bama has won the game every year for the last decade and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change any time soon. The rivalry dates back to 1901, and it would be disappointing to see that go away. But we would get a renewal of the Tennessee-Auburn series in its place, as well as more balanced division, so I think it could be worth that price. Of course, I’m not an Alabama or Tennessee fan, though.
So, Georgia and Tennessee would need new crossover opponents, and the open teams would be Missouri and its current crossover opponent, Arkansas. If Georgia was given Missouri, then like Auburn, its schedule would remain exactly the same as it is now. The states of Arkansas and Tennessee border one another, so that matchup seems like it would be a natural rivalry. That is until you remember Fayetteville and Knoxville are 700 miles away from one another. (Tennessee is just too damn long, y’all.) And if Georgia got Arkansas instead of Missouri, I think that would be an upgrade in many Bulldog fans’ minds. Either way, it doesn’t seem an Auburn move to the East would affect UGA much, schedule-wise.
The implications for how the East would shake out on an annual basis is another can of worms. On paper, it becomes a tougher division for the Bulldogs, but then you have to remember that Missouri has won the East twice since Georgia last did it, so it’s not like replacing a team that never won anything and never will with a bunch of world-beaters. Yeah, Auburn would make the East more of a test, but that’s something it probably needs in its current state. And Georgia has historically beaten Auburn enough in recent memory that you have to figure it wouldn’t change the Bulldogs’ calculus to get to Atlanta too drastically.
What’s your opinion, Georgia fans? Would you be cool with Auburn moving over to the East or do you want to see the Tigers remain in the West? And if they did move, would you rather see Missouri or Arkansas as Georgia’s new crossover opponent? Let me know in the comments section.
Handful of early betting lines released
SB Nation got its hands on some early college football betting lines from South Point Casino in Las Vegas. Among them were a few Georgia games. Of the UGA games available — Florida, Georgia Tech and South Carolina (sorry, no Notre Dame) — the Bulldogs were favored in all three.
|Nov. 4||Georgia||-14||South Carolina|
|Nov. 25||Georgia||-5||Georgia Tech|
Georgia is already listed as a 14-point favorite over Appalachian State in the opener, according to OddsShark.
So, is anyone ready to lay some money down on any of these games yet?
Georgia vs. UF on CBS once again
CBS Sports released part of its slate of televised games Tuesday for the upcoming season. As expected, Georgia-Florida will once again be broadcast by CBS, with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m.
— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) May 30, 2017
Georgia football 2017 opponent previews
I wrapped up my early previews of all Georgia’s 2017 opponents Tuesday. If you missed any, you can find each one of them right here.
- Kirby Smart calls his first year at Georgia ‘disappointing’ (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- UGA coach Kirby Smart says no ‘major benefit’ from open records law (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- UGA’s Mark Fox on return of Yante Maten, search for assistant coach and nonconference schedule (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- SEC facilities arms race will ‘keep going,’ but Kirby Smart and UGA stay focused (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Kirby Smart ‘completely’ supports UGA’s strict marijuana policy: ‘It’s against the law’ (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Brice Ramsey would be welcomed back on UGA’s football team (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Walter Grant Jr. may be best-kept secret in UGA’s 2017 recruiting class (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- Watch: UGA releases video announcing ‘SICEM17’ has moved to Athens (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- UGA recruiting: Can Roswell QB Cordel Littlejohn earn an offer? (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- Georgia adds to the ‘flash factor’ in football recruiting with its DJ booth (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
- Fingers crossed for all incoming freshmen being good to go (Anthony Dasher, UGA Sports)
- Georgia football: Top 10 decades in the Bulldogs’ 125-year history (Kyle Funderburk, Dawn of the Dawg)
You spin my dog right ’round, right ’round.
I'm positive my dog has lost his mind… pic.twitter.com/RkYjo9q3AO
— Kainoa (@Youngster_Kai) May 28, 2017