Florida Gators: Dave Hart

When the 14 athletic directors in the Southeastern Conference met Sunday night to vote on future scheduling, there were some opposed to the current format and the cross-division rivalries, but collectively they agreed that maintaining rivalries such as Alabama-Tennessee or Auburn-Georgia were too important for those fan bases and for the league in general.

“The priority for me was to make sure that we kept the Auburn-Georgia rivalry,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said. “There’s so much tradition and history there.”

The rivalry, better known as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, began back in 1892. There have been a total of 117 games played between the two with Auburn holding a 55-54-8 edge after last year’s dramatic victory over the Bulldogs.

“Our history and heritage that we’ve had with not only the South’s oldest rivalry but also the relationship we’ve had,” Jacobs said. “Coach [Vince] Dooley played here and coached there; Pat Dye played there and coached here; Rodney Garner, and it just goes on and on and on.

We share all the revenue and expenses yet we cannot have a balanced, fair, equitable schedule. LSU has played Florida and Georgia 19 times since 2000, and Bama has played them eight times. Is that fair?

-- LSU athletic director Joe Alleva
“And the proximity, it’s right here geographically next to us. It’s just a great rivalry for our fans, and it was the No. 1 priority for me to make sure that we kept that.”

The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry is no different. It began back in 1901 and has been a staple for the league ever since. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that the Crimson Tide and the Volunteers will play on the third Saturday in October, and both sides were vocal about continuing that tradition.

“Chancellor [Jimmy] Cheek and I have strongly and consistently advocated that this rivalry be preserved regardless of any other outcomes resulting from conversations about football scheduling,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement Sunday.

The other five cross-division rivalries have received mixed reviews. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva didn’t hide his feelings about having to play Florida every year as he told the Baton Rouge Advocate that he was disappointed in the leaders of the SEC and how they disregarded the competitive advantage that permanent partners award to certain schools.

“We share all the revenue and expenses yet we cannot have a balanced, fair, equitable schedule,” Alleva said. “LSU has played Florida and Georgia 19 times since 2000, and Bama has played them eight times. Is that fair?”

Meanwhile, pitting Arkansas and Missouri against each other seems to make sense and could create a new rivalry between the two schools that border each other.

The decision also kept the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt rivalry intact. No, it’s not the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and it’s not played on the third Saturday of every October, but the Rebels and Commodores have played 87 times and haven’t missed a meeting since 1969.

“When people thought of rivalries, they obviously thought of Tennessee and Alabama, and Georgia and Auburn,” Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said. “But we’ve played Ole Miss 87 times, and people don’t realize that. It maybe doesn’t rise to the level of rivalries like those others, but think of the last two games. Both games -- the one down at Oxford that we won and the one that they won up here last year -- were decided in the last minute.

“It’s close enough that their fan base can get up here, and our fan base can get down there. So it is a rivalry, and I think that we see each other as sort of a rivalry.”

Are the cross-division rivalries fair for the SEC? Probably not. Fans want to see matchups like Auburn-Florida or Alabama-Georgia more often. Players want the chance to play every team in the other division at least once during their four years in school.

However, the athletic directors voted and maintaining some of those traditional rivalries was more important.

SEC lunchtime links

October, 18, 2013
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It's Friday which means it's time for the #SECMailbag. Use the hashtag on Twitter or tweet directly at me at @AlexS_ESPN with your questions and comments. Hurry, and I'll do my best to get them in a post later this afternoon.

SEC power rankings: Week 13

November, 19, 2012
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After everything that happened over the weekend, our power rankings didn't really change heading into the final week of the regular season:

1. Alabama (10-1; last week: 1): The Tide didn't have much competition lining up opposition over the weekend, but Alabama took care of business in dominating fashion. Then the team watched as Kansas State and Oregon lost, propelling the Tide back into the BCS title game hunt. Beat Auburn and Georgia, and Alabama is headed back to the national championship. Well played, Nick Saban.

2. Georgia (10-1; LW: 2): Georgia Southern and its triple-option offense really wasn't much of a threat to the Bulldogs, who are right in the thick of the national championship picture. Georgia is playing its best football of the year and it couldn't have come at a better time. A win over Georgia Tech this weekend, and the Bulldogs will be playing for a national championship berth when they face Alabama in the SEC championship game. Remember when all those Georgia "fans" were calling for Mark Richt's job? Yeah, you can sit down now.

3. Florida (10-1; LW: 3): The Gators don't win pretty, but somehow they are 10-1. Two FCS foes really challenged the Gators, but what's even crazier is that with a win over Florida State this weekend, Florida will be headed to a BCS bowl game and if Notre Dame loses, the Gators could be headed to the national championship. The Gators are where they are thanks to a fabulous defense and tremendous special teams. But if Florida wants to have a chance against the Noles, the offense has to be much, much better and it will really help if quarterback Jeff Driskel can come back healthy this week.

(Read full post)

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College Football Minute: Oct. 21
Alabama's offense gets more good news, Arizona State turns back to Taylor Kelly and Florida coach Will Muschamp gets a vote of confidence -- sort of. It's all ahead in your College Football Minute.
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