Although the SEC hasn’t made an official announcement, it appears that Arkansas-Missouri and South Carolina-Texas A&M will become permanent cross-division rivals in football.
South Carolina president Harris Pastides told ABC Columbia that Texas A&M is their “likely” option for a permanent cross-division rival.
“If all goes the way I think it will, we’ll probably be swapping Arkansas for Texas A&M in the fall,” said Pastides.
Arkansas and South Carolina have been cross-division rivals since the SEC moved to divisions in 1992. With Arkansas sharing borders with Missouri, it seems likely that those two will also become permanent cross-division rivals.
“Arkansas is a long way off. Arkansas and Missouri have kind of buddied up because they are neighboring states and wanted to play each other,” Pastides told ABC Columbia.
To add fuel to the fire, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin tweeted this yesterday:
— R. Bowen Loftin '71 (@aggieprez) March 5, 2012
Judging by the comments of these two presidents, it appears that the SEC will stick with an 8-game conference schedule and use a 6-1-1 format.
The 6-1-1 format will allow for old rivalries to continue, such as Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. But this model also means it will take 12 years for each team to play every team from the opposite division, compared to only five years under the old 5-1-2.
Another option for the 6-1-1 format is to play each team from the other division in succession, rather than playing one team home-and-home and then moving to the next team. In that scenario, each SEC team could play all of the other teams in the opposite division in six years rather than twelve.
It’s still plausible that the SEC could move to a nine-game schedule in the future. After all, nothing is “permanent” when it comes to football scheduling and conference alignment.