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Taking a Stab at SEC Realignment

With the assumption of Big XII outcasts Missouri and Texas A&M this summer, the SEC was faced with multiple dilemmas. Among them was division alignment and scheduling. Though I think the league has done an OK job at both, I see room for improvement. Here is what I think would do to make the sort-of Southeastern Conference a little more logical:

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I’ve never been to Columbia, Missouri or College Station, Texas. I never really had plans to go. My love for the Dawgs will force me to do so one of these days. Though I’ve never been to either city, I know that they join Fayetteville, Arkansas as the SEC’s westernmost outposts. So let's put both newbies in the SEC West.

Since I’m in the giving mood, I also suggest sending Vanderbilt out West. Nashville is the westernmost point on the SEC East's geographic expanse as it is. Plus, the East already has two schools that play good basketball in Florida and Kentucky, so putting Vandy in the West with Missouri gives the West two decent teams on the hardwood, as well.

Author’s note: The SEC has done away with divisions in basketball for the 2012-13 season. Does that fact trump my Vandy card entirely?

Vandy, also a baseball powerhouse, would help control the balance of power in that sport, too. The East already has perennial winners South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, plus upstart Kentucky. The West has LSU.

Let us now move both schools in the state of Alabama to the SEC East. Auburn is practically in Georgia and closer to most SEC East schools than Vanderbilt. The Georgia-Auburn annual rivalry game is now safe and no longer subject to even being threatened by division reshuffling.

I now step down from my geographic soap box to occupy one more concerned with logistics. In moving Alabama to the East, the rivalry with Tennessee is preserved. Plus, Bama can keep playing Auburn while also facing out-of-state football recruiting rivals Florida and Georgia on a yearly basis to see how important those stars that follow a player's name actually are.

What about Alabama and LSU? Most college football fans believe they should play each other every year. I agree. That's why I suggest making LSU Bama's cross-division rival. And what of Florida-LSU, you ask? Well, they've only been playing each other on an annual basis since the 70s, so I think it's safe to sacrifice the "Battle of the Swamp People" for Bama-LSU. Florida can find a new rival in the West. After all, it’s easy to hate Florida.

Here's where we are:

SEC East

Alabama

Auburn

Florida

Georgia

Kentucky

South Carolina

Tennessee

SEC West

Arkansas

LSU

Mississippi State

Missouri

Ole Miss

Texas A&M

Vanderbilt

Author's Note: My East is top-heavy in a football sense, but it was the only way I could see preserving Bama and Tennessee, a rivalry that at one point was among the most fierce and hotly contested in the land. This, of course, was way before the days of Saban and Son of Dooley.

Cross-division rivalries:

Alabama-LSU (The "Saban Bowl")

Auburn-Mississippi State (This game has been a pretty entertaining one in recent years. Let them keep battling.)

Florida-Texas A&M (So Aggie fans can still hate a team that wears orange)

Georgia-Ole Miss (Old-school annual matchup sacrificed to previous realignment)

Kentucky-Missouri (The "B-Ball Bowl")

South Carolina-Arkansas (This one has gotten better over the years as the teams' records have improved.)

Tennessee-Vanderbilt (They claim to be rivals, don't they?)

Clearly this is a difficult puzzle to solve, but I took my best stab at it. What say you, reader?

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