Friday, February 17, 2012

Preserving rivalries, a case in simplicity?

Could it really be this simple? vineyarddawg takes a stab at preserving specific rivalries in the face of conference expansion.

The simplest solution, I suppose, would be to keep the 8-game conference schedule and go back to having 12 teams rather than 14 in the SEC. And personally, I would keep A&M, add Clemson, and dump Arkansas, Mizzou, and South Castlevania. Rather than make that radical suggestion that has no possibility of actually happening, however (I've already done that, for the record), I will stick to an option that is more plausible... and, in fact, makes the most sense from a scheduling standpoint.
After securing an NCAA waiver to continue having a conference championship game, the SEC should drop the divisional structure of the league. Instead of being forced into some odd "geographically aligned" divisional system that requires us to play Missouri more frequently than we play Auburn, the SEC should implement a system that allows each team to preserve its most important rivalries while giving the league the greatest amount of flexibility to rotate teams' schedules.
That solution is to assign each team in the conference 3 "permament rivals," then rotate the final 5 conference games between all of the remaining conference opponents. At the end of the season, the teams with the two best conference records (regardless of geography) would meet in Atlanta. For example, the SEC's new "preserved rivalry" lineup could look something like this (rivalries listed roughly in order of importance to each school):

TeamRival 1Rival 2Rival 3
AlabamaAuburnTennesseeLSU
ArkansasTexas A&MMizzouMississippi State
AuburnAlabamaGeorgiaMizzou
FloridaGeorgiaLSUSouth Castlevania
GeorgiaAuburnFloridaSouth Castlevania
KentuckyTennesseeVanderbiltSouth Castlevania
LSUAlabamaOle MissFlorida
Mississippi StateOle MissArkansasTexas A&M
MissouriTexas A&MArkansasAuburn
Ole MissMississippi StateLSUVanderbilt
South CastlevaniaGeorgiaFloridaKentucky
TennesseeAlabamaKentuckyVanderbilt
Texas A&MArkansasMizzouMississippi State
VanderbiltTennesseeKentuckyOle Miss

See how I did that? With 5 games used to rotate between the remaining 10 teams, every school could make a complete home-and-home circuit of all conference teams in 4 seasons. And I didn't even get paid a single dollar, let alone the mind-boggling figures the geniuses in AD's offices around the conference get paid to come up with this stuff.
I'm still not pleased with expansion and would resist moving away from the "unclutteredness" of the two divisional champs meeting in Atlanta. But, vineyarddawg's solution seems to be a worthy compromise to me.