Will Auburn ever move to the SEC East?

Aside from the neverending zombie-story of satellite camps which prompted a Jim Harbaugh Tweet attacking Nick Saban and Alabama, it’s been a relatively quiet week in Sandestin at the SEC Spring Meetings.

But one topic has bubbled up and received a bit of discussion — should Auburn move to the SEC East? The story gained some measure of attention when Auburn’s Gus Malzahn commented to ESPN’s Chris Low on the issue. Low tweeted that Auburn wouldn’t be opposed to the move. Yesterday SEC commissioner Greg Sankey acknowledged that he’d seen the discussion and that it would be discussed at least a bit. 

But does Auburn to the SEC East make sense? (Auburn to the SEC would make the SEC East and SEC West division names make sense because Missouri would move to the SEC West.)

First, I’m anti-division in the SEC period. That is, as I’ve been saying for years, I believe the SEC football teams should play three yearly rival games and five other rotating teams, completing the entire circuit of home and home games throughout the conference every four years. Right now it takes 12 years for teams in opposite divisions to complete a circuit through the entire conference. Placing Auburn in the SEC East would be a move that doesn’t do anything to address this issue. 

But for those who believe that the SEC East and SEC West are unevenly balanced — and certainly you can argue right now that the top seven coaches in the SEC are all in the western division — it would potentially help to make the two divisions more even. So while I don’t think any divisional realignment is coming soon Auburn to the SEC East offers a fascinating interplay of conference politics. Presuming that Missouri would move to the SEC West, what would you do with yearly rival games across division?

Right now those yearly cross-division games look like this:

Vanderbilt — Ole Miss

Kentucky — Mississippi State

Tennessee — Alabama

Georgia — Auburn

Florida — LSU

South Carolina — Texas A&M

Missouri — Arkansas

If Missouri and Auburn switch places you’d have some intriguing decisions to make. After the move your yearly rivals would look like this:

Vanderbilt — Ole Miss

Kentucky — Mississippi State

Florida — LSU

South Carolina — Texas A&M

Auburn and Georgia, the South’s oldest rivalry, would now be played as an SEC East game so that fits well. But both of these teams would need new cross-division opponents. Then you’d run into the biggest obstacle to division realignment: Alabama-Tennessee. You know that Auburn wouldn’t be giving up the Iron Bowl against Alabama so you’d have to make Auburn and Alabama cross-division rivals. This would mean that Auburn and Alabama could also potentially end up in a rematch if the Iron Bowl teams had both already  

That means the yearly Tennessee-Alabama game would be a casualty of divisional realignment. (You would however, regain two lost rivalry games. Florida and Auburn and Tennessee and Auburn would also regain yearly rival games.) Now Tennessee and Alabama are both publicly against the loss of their rivalry game, but from a competitive perspective wouldn’t it be better for the Vols not to have to play Alabama every year. I know, I know, it’s one of the best rivalries in college football and success in the series has always been cyclical — Tennessee didn’t lose for 11 of 12 games against Alabama before the Tide ran off nine straight wins with Nick Saban in charge — but wouldn’t it arguably make both teams have an easier path to the SEC title game if they didn’t play? (Again, think historically, not in the moment. Alabama would replace a yearly game with Tennessee for a yearly game with Missouri. That definitely makes the Tide schedule much easier.)

So who would Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas and Missouri play?

Here’s a bet that Tennessee would return to a rivalry game with Arkansas and Georgia would get Missouri. (This is assuming South Carolina didn’t try to get out of its new game against Texas A&M.)

Wouldn’t Tennessee and Georgia both be happy with getting Arkansas and Missouri as yearly rivals to replace Alabama and Auburn? I think they’d have to be.

So what do y’all think, does Auburn to the SEC East and Missouri to the SEC West make enough sense to give up Tennessee and Alabama?

Here’s my Twitter poll. 

Meanwhile, I’m headed back to the beach.  

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.