Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The SEC still hasn't confirmed (or denied) South Carolina president Harris Pastides's claim that the league's athletic directors and presidents have signed off on a plan to maintain the league's annual cross-divisional rivalry games, or his assertion that his Gamecocks would be exchanging their yearly battle against Arkansas for one vs. league newcomers Texas A&M.
But even if the league won't confirm it, someone who would most certainly be in a position to know has: Aggie president R. Bowen Loftin. Loftin tweeted the following Monday afternoon:
Yes, that's the bow-tied president of a major research university of more than 50,000 students tweeting "#WHOOP" over a future football game. Clearly, the Aggies will be even more at home in the SEC than we've thought.
That aside, Loftin's confirmation should -- finally -- end any speculation or controversy over whether or not the SEC will keep the permanent cross-division games that have allowed series like Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee to continue since its 1992 divisional split. If the SEC is going to bother forcing the Gamecocks and Aggies -- two teams without any geographic rivalry or gridiron history -- to play each season, it's safe to assume that every SEC team is going to play someone in their opposite division, eliminating the possibility of a compromise that would see some teams (like the Tide and Vols) keep their cross-division rivalries while others did not.
This decision does mean that if the SEC remains wedded to an eight-game schedule, teams in opposite divisions who don't share a rivalry game (like say, Alabama and Florida, or Georgia and LSU ) will play each other just twice in a 12-year rotation. To judge by Pastides's and Loftin's comments, though, whether that will be often enough to keep all 14 schools (and the SEC's television partners) happy will be a bridge the conference will cross when it comes to it.
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