With the SEC expanding to 16 teams, here’s what realignment should look like

·2 min read

The deal is reportedly all but done that will bring Texas and Oklahoma into the SEC, turning the “It Means More” league into a 16-team super-conference.

When the Longhorns and Sooners actually are cleared for SEC play, some scheduling adjustments will have to be made, especially in football.

Here’s how I would do it:

Move Alabama and Auburn from the West Division to the East Division. Move Missouri to the West. Add Oklahoma and Texas to the West, giving the two eight-team divisions the following composition:

EAST

  • Alabama

  • Auburn

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Kentucky

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Vanderbilt

WEST

  • Arkansas

  • LSU

  • Mississippi

  • Mississippi State

  • Missouri

  • Oklahoma

  • Texas

  • Texas A&M

Move from an eight-game conference schedule to a nine-game conference schedule. Teams would play each divisional opponent once and two teams from the opposite division. The Pac-12 and Big Ten are already playing nine-game conference schedules. Time for the SEC to climb on board.

Eliminate the permanent cross-division opponent. That was implemented to keep traditional rivalries such as Auburn-Georgia and Tennessee-Alabama intact. With Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee in the same division, it would no longer be needed.

Rotate the two cross-division opponents each year. That way a four-year player in the SEC will have played every conference school at least once during his career. That would also eliminate the long gaps between teams playing each other. For example, Texas A&M entered the SEC in 2012. The Aggies have played Kentucky in football just once since then.

Rotate the SEC championship game between Atlanta and Dallas. With Texas and Oklahoma joining the league, the conference needs to explore the possibility of using AT&T Stadium as a site for its title tilt.

To me, this is preferable to the four-divisional or four-pods approach I’ve seen suggested. But that does lead us to basketball.

I’m not opposed to returning to the divisional format, but I’d probably keep basketball as one 16-team league.

I’d expand the conference basketball schedule from 18 to 20 games.

I’d use the pod scheduling format the league loosely uses now, with four teams playing home-and-home series each season, with at least one game each against the rest of the league members.

The four basketball pods might look like this:

  • Kentucky-Tennessee-Vanderbilt-Georgia

  • Florida-South Carolina-Alabama-Auburn

  • Texas-Texas A&M-Oklahoma-Arkansas

  • Missouri-Ole Miss-Mississippi State-LSU

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