SEC Commissioner Mike Slive attended a college pep rally Monday in a place that just two years ago most people could’ve never guessed he would be standing. The location was College Station, Texas. After months of speculation, threats of law suits, and negotiations; Slive was in College Station to attend a Texas size celebration of the announcement of Texas A&M becoming the South Eastern Conference’s 13th member.
There was much gaiety in the air as Slive, Florida President Bernie Machen – Chairman of the SEC President’s Council, and A&M President R. Bowen Loftin stood with their arms around each other posing for pictures. However, the new membership of A&M opens a Pandora’s box of questions for Slive and the SEC presidents to solve in the next couple of years. The most immediate question is …
How will a 13th member conference fit into the SEC’s eight game schedule?
Slive said a committee has been formed to study the dilemma. At present, SEC schools have to play eight conference games which includes each school in their division. However, it appears (for at least one to two years) the SEC will have one division (West) with seven teams and one division (East) with six teams.
So how will this problem be worked out?
Several ideas have been thrown around in recent days. However, the most likely scenario would have the Eastern Division schools continue to play all five teams in their division along with three teams from the West.
But what about the unbalanced seven team Western Division?
Four schools in the West would have to play five West Division opponents and three Eastern Division teams; while two teams play six West Division games and two games with East opponents, to meet an equal eight game SEC schedule.
Problems this will present:
* Which teams will lose an SEC East opponent? Auburn lose Georgia? Alabama lose Tennessee? LSU lose Florida? Who?
* A tie breaker of some sort will have to be devised in case two West teams have identical records and have not faced each other during the season.
* Is it fair for a division champion to be crowned that has not faced every team in the West?
* Is it fair that the Western Division Champ may have to have a tie breaker in place while the East Champion does not have such a hurdle?
Perplexed? Me too.
Of course other names have been tossed around as a possible 14th member. Behind Missouri, Louisville and West Virginia have been mentioned the most often. Many think that Kentucky would work to block Louisville’s entry and the SEC has already rebuffed the Mountaineers’ overtures for a marriage. So unless the Big 12 9 comes apart, the likelihood of a 14th member is out of the question for the foreseeable future.
Texas A&M has a rich football tradition. Nevertheless her alumni and fans know they are going into the nation’s toughest conference. Judging from the sounds coming out of College Station; they are excited about the opportunity to not only face the challenge but to be ‘free at last’ from the unequal treatment of the Big 12 and from the bullying of the Longhorn nation.
There are two things that the SEC can promise her newest member concerning equality.
One is an equal opportunity to divide up revenue and the other is an equal opportunity to get a butt whipping, if your not on top of your game every week.