While we’re in the final stages of our preparations for college football season, I wanted to offer an SEC twist on the recent imbroglio over putting the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio St. Buckeyes in different divisions of the Big Ten. To put it mildly, this has been controversial; to put it bluntly, this has been Armageddon, largely because it likely requires moving the game to an earlier point in the season.
However, over at SB Nation’s Tennessee Volunteers weblog, Rocky Top Talk, Holly Anderson of Dr. Saturday, Every Day Should Be Saturday, and SB Nation Los Angeles fame made the following excellent point, from a Big Orange fan’s perspective:
Is there anybody here who wouldn't love a second crack at Alabama in any given season? We play them on the regular, but meeting them in the Georgia Dome in December would be something special, right? Am I missing something? It's never worked out that way so far, but I'd be more excited about seeing my "favorite" rivals again than any other team in the SEC. What about y'all?
As I noted in the comments, I think Holly is absolutely right. The only thing I would enjoy more than seeing the Georgia Bulldogs represent the SEC East in Atlanta would be arriving there and finding that our oldest rivals, the Auburn Tigers, were waiting for us as the representatives of the SEC West.
Will noted, though, that the SEC Championship Game has featured five rematches of regular-season outings in its 18-year-history, all of them in a six-year period from 1999 to 2004. Although the Plainsmen faced the Florida Gators in the Georgia Dome in 2000, the remaining perennial traditional inter-division rivalries (Alabama-Tennessee, Georgia-Auburn, and, to a much lesser extent, Florida-LSU) have never been replayed.
This probably underscores Brian Cook’s point that a Michigan-Ohio State rematch in the Big Ten title tilt would be infrequent at best, but Holly’s question is a good one precisely because we have no experience upon which to rely in answering it. I completely agree with her position that two games against a heated rival from the other side of the divide would enhance, rather than diminish, the rivalry. As Madeline Kahn once said, "Too much of a good thing is an even better thing."
Although the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry went to a home-and-home arrangement in 1959, Georgia and Auburn have a long history of neutral-site contests; 59 of the 113 series meetings occurred in Atlanta (12 times), Columbus (39 times), Macon (four times), Montgomery (twice), and Savannah (twice). The Plainsmen lead the series overall (53-52-8), while the Bulldogs hold the edge away from campus (27-26-6). Two games against the Tigers in a single season would be sweet, and renewing hostilities at a neutral site for the first time since Fran Tarkenton’s sophomore season would be even better.
What do you think?