Photo courtesy of Texas athletics
Earlier this week, rumors began circulating about Oklahoma and Texas potentially leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.
Slowly, those rumors have begun to turn into reality. Whether you like it or not, Oklahoma and Texas could be well on their way to becoming the 15th and 16th members of the SEC.
So, what exactly would that look like? Would teams just simply be split into divisions?
Or would two current members move out?
But who knows?
One realignment method has started to pick up some steam, and that is the pod system.
What is a ‘pod system’?
A pod system would eliminate divisions; it would also move the number of conference games from eight to nine. Those are two things that some in the league might oppose, but it could be the best way to go about the restructuring of the conference.
The SEC Network has painted a picture for us and here is its proposed idea:
Pod A: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina
Pod B: Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Pod C: LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Pod D: Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma
Here’s the proposed 9-game conference schedule format:
- Play the three teams in your pod every season
- Play two games against each of the other pods
- Host every team at least once every four seasons
This system would not only preserve each team’s arch-rival in pods, but it would also reunite some of the founding members of the Big 12. The winner of each pod would advance to the SEC semifinals.
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For the sake of understanding, let’s take a look at what an Alabama conference schedule would look like. The Crimson Tide would play Auburn, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt every season, so there would be three non-conference games. After that, the Tide would go up against two teams from each pod. For example, Alabama could face Florida and Georgia from Pod A, LSU and Mississippi State from Pod C, and Arkansas and Missouri from Pod D. That would total out at nine conference games.
What about rivalries between teams not in pods, such as Alabama vs. LSU and Auburn vs. Georgia? Would they play every season? We don’t know.
Those are games that we should see every year. If the pod system won’t allow that to happen, then it needs to be refined or scrapped for a different method. Again, this is just an idea. While it’s picking up steam, we don’t know which direction the SEC will go.
Now, let’s have some fun. Each of these is imperfect, but some fans and other people around the college football world have come up with some unique combinations with these pods. Here are a few…
Pod A: Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina
Pod B: Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State
Pod C: Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Pod D: LSU, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M
This one makes the most sense. Outside of Tennessee-Vanderbilt, each team’s biggest rival is in its pod. Let’s be honest though: Tennessee values its games against Georgia and Florida a lot more than the Vanderbilt match-up. Geographically, each team is podded up by region.
Pod A: Georgia, Florida, Auburn, South Carolina
Pod B: Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State
Pod C: Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Pod D: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas
This hypothetically would bring a big portion of the Big 12 together, but there are some obvious flaws — one of those being Auburn and Alabama in separate pods. You can’t risk not playing arguably the best rivalry game in college football every season by putting them in different pods.
How about one more…
Pod A: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Auburn
Pod B: LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas
Pod C: South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Pod D: Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri
This one might make sense on paper, but you are again sacrificing some big-time rivalry games, such as Arkansas-Missouri and LSU-Texas A&M. Not to mention that Pod A and Pod D are far and away the most talent-rich pods.
What will the SEC actually do?
The pod system looks like it could be fun, but it also has some serious flaws. Also, this is just speculation; there is no proof that the SEC has been looking at moving to a pod system.
One would think that the SEC would be most comfortable with just sticking with what it is doing now. Obviously, there would have to be some realignment.
Oklahoma and Texas would certainly reside in the SEC West, which means two teams would need to move to the East. The two most logical options would be Alabama and Auburn. Missouri would almost certainly move to the West as well.
Those divisions would look like this…
Nobody knows how this is going to look, but expansion is inevitable. Schools across the country have expressed interest in forming super conferences, and this could just be the beginning. Regardless, the best conference in college football appears to be adding two of the biggest brands in the sport, so the competition should only get stiffer.
I think moving Auburn and Miss State to the East is the most logical move, at this point. Bama would want to stay in the West. It has a greater chance of them being in the title game, every year. The ONLY blemish is Texas and Texas A&M. A&M moved to the SEC for a reason. Now that reason, wants to join them again. Texas was always the big bully to A&M in the Big12. Now they’ll have to contend with them, again. Recruiting in the state will be a big problem for A&M, once again.This proposal is giving A&M, acid reflux again.
You can tell how young and/or provincial people are by their concern for grouping Big 12 teams that had a 17-year relationship, when the actual concern should be grouping Southwest Conference teams with ties dating back to 1915.
None of those SEC pods make sense geographically.
Here’s the best possible pod system for the SEC …
Pod A: Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas
Pod B: Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State
Pod C: Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Pod D: Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
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