The New SEC Basketball Scheduling Preserves UGA’s Oldest Rivalries
Georgia has long standing rivalries with South Carolina, Auburn and Florida. Many wondered when the previously new SEC schedules came out three years ago with the arrival of Texas A&M and Missouri why Georgia only was guaranteed to face South Carolina every season. The Georgia-Florida rivalry suffered as a result and the typically close, but far less regarded Georgia-Auburn rivalry was treated like any other SEC matchup. Now both Florida and Auburn are rivals of Georgia that will face the Dawgs twice a year in a home and home format every season. South Carolina’s rivalry with Georgia continues as the new SEC Basketball scheduling recognizes that Georgia is South Carolina’s oldest rival in the conference.
The new rivalry format is as follows within the SEC:
Alabama: LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State
Arkansas: LSU, Texas A&M, Missouri
Auburn: Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia
Florida: Kentucky, Georgia, Vanderbilt
Georgia: South Carolina, Florida, Auburn
Kentucky: Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
LSU: Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas
Ole Miss: Mississippi State, Auburn, Missouri
Mississippi State: Ole Miss, Alabama, South Carolina
Missouri: Arkansas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss
South Carolina: Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi State
Tennessee: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina
Texas A&M: LSU, Arkansas, Missouri
Vanderbilt: Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida
Georgia’s new SEC slate means that the Dawgs will be making annual visits to the O’Connell Center and will host Bruce Pearl every year just like the days when he was at Tennessee. Georgia-Tennessee was a budding rivalry until Pearl’s dismissal and show cause penalty, now Georgia-Auburn should become a far more intense rivalry. Georgia fans should pack Stegeman Coliseum and buy tickets EARLY to prevent the large pockets of Orange and Blue from forming like the way the Upper Level was almost solidly Tennessee Orange and portions of the Lower Level had some Orange as well. If our readers recall, Tennessee bused in their fans from Knoxville to occupy seats at Stegeman.
Where the Scheduling Goes Right:
- Arch-rivals are preserved.
- Most of the football rivalries are kept consistent to keep the hate going.
Where the Scheduling Goes Wrong:
Who is Missouri’s arch-rival in the SEC? This scheduling does not provide any sort of closure on this issue. Missouri’s entrance into the conference provided no real answer as to their replacement for Kansas in the Big XII. Missouri arguably still has a bigger rivalry with Illinois than with any of the SEC schools. The Missouri-South Carolina rivalry in football has shown signs of heating up and the SEC failed to really build off the momentum for the “Battle of Columbia”. South Carolina still has not established a rivalry with any program other than UGA during their time in the SEC, but both sides of the rivalry will not really acknowledge that it is much of a rivalry. The coincidence of the home city names and being relatively new should have sparked interest in trying to continue this rivalry.
South Carolina-Mississippi State… really? This is a filler matchup that does not appeal to anyone.
What the new SEC Basketball Scheduling Should Have Been:
Took extra pains to make sure that each team had their three matchups and it all worked out appropriately. What this proposal does is protect old rivalries, enhance the rivalries the SEC wishes to push and gives more depth to some older rivalries.
Alabama: Replaced LSU with Ole Miss, LSU-Alabama may be the most prominent rivalry in this proposal to suffer. However, LSU-Alabama has only been enhanced to some degree because of Nick Saban’s presence at Alabama when it comes to Football.
Arkansas: The SEC got it right. Preserve the Arkansas-LSU rivalry. Promote the budding border rivalry between Arkansas and Missouri. Texas A&M and Arkansas is a throwback to the old Southwest Conference days, giving this rivalry even more depth is a good thing.
Auburn: Replaced Ole Miss with Mississippi State. Ole Miss-Auburn as a rivalry was only relevant when Marshall Henderson was around. There’s only one Marshall Henderson and he’s now playing overseas. Mississippi State and Auburn are institutions of similar missions and the rivalry is underrated. Obviously, Alabama and Georgia are right on the money.
Florida: The SEC got this one right. Keeping Georgia and Kentucky while including Vanderbilt is a mix of the relevant schools that Florida feuds with in all sports.
Georgia: The SEC got it right. UGA’s rivalries in basketball were about as obvious as it gets.
Kentucky: The SEC got it right. These are the modern rivalries for UK. It’s not the 1990s nor the 2000s. Arkansas and Mississippi State do not merit the rivalry status.
LSU: Alabama does not need to face LSU twice a year. If you have a rivalry where you actually have cheers of “Geaux to Hell, Ole Miss!” and “Go to Hell, LSU!” it should be worthy of having two games being played in the basketball season.
Mississippi State: Scheduling South Carolina with Mississippi State was pure laziness. Mississippi State with Auburn makes more sense.
Missouri: Replace Ole Miss with South Carolina. Make the “Battle of Columbia” happen. If Missouri can be in the SEC East in football, certainly South Carolina and Missouri can fly out to face each other each season.
Ole Miss: Auburn and Missouri do not make much sense for Ole Miss. Putting Ole Miss with LSU and Alabama makes more sense. Auburn and Missouri have more appropriate opponents to take on within the conference.
South Carolina: Switched out Mississippi State for Missouri. Seriously, SEC?
Tennessee: The SEC got it right here. Cannot complain.
Texas A&M: The SEC got it right here. Cannot complain.
Vanderbilt: The SEC got it right here. Cannot complain.
Is it too late for the league office to fix these schedules around? The SEC got much of it right, but the things they did wrong were very silly and hilariously fixable. The new SEC Basketball scheduling for rivalries is a step in the right direction, but they clearly were not thinking about trying to create or enhance multi-sport rivalries as much as they should have.