published Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

SEC keeps cross-division rivalries

Alabama running back Trent Richardson scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Vols during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct, 22 2011 in Tuscaloosa Ala.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Vols during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct, 22 2011 in Tuscaloosa Ala.
Photo by Associated Press.


The Southeastern Conference announced Friday that it will distribute a record $241.5 million to the 12 institutions for the 2011-12 fiscal year that ends Aug. 31.

Each school will receive about $20.1 million. The overall total is a 9.8-percent increase from the $219.9 million that was distributed to the schools in 2010-11.

Football television provided $116.6 million, or just under 50 percent of the distribution, and the league received $34.2 million from bowl games, $31.2 million from basketball television, $24.9 million from NCAA championships, $15.3 million from the SEC football championship and $14.4 million in supplemental distribution.

The league distributed $4.1 million in 1980, $16.3 million in 1990, $73.2 million in 2000 and $132.5 million three years ago.

— David Paschall

Alabama and Tennessee have met in football every October since the inception of the Southeastern Conference in 1933, taking a break only in 1943 due to World War II.

They're going to keep playing.

The SEC wrapped up its spring meetings with a Friday filled with announcements, one being that the league will continue to implement the 6-1-1 football scheduling format in 2013 and beyond. Each team plays the six teams in its division, a permanent opponent from the opposite division and a rotating foe from the opposite division, and it protects longstanding cross-divisional matchups such as Bama-UT and Auburn-Georgia.

Auburn and Georgia have met 115 times in the Deep South's oldest rivalry, with the Tigers leading the series 54-53-8.

"I think there is a sense of relief," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said Friday after leaving Destin, Fla. "At the end of the day, the traditional rivalries of the SEC are intact, and I think that everyone felt like that was important to the historical piece of the league as we go through expansion."

The vote by the league's presidents and athletic directors to implement the 6-1-1 model passed 11-3. LSU officials expressed their frustration with having to play Florida each season and preferred a 6-2 model that would have enhanced the rotation but eliminated the cross-divisional rivalries.

SEC presidents and ADs voted unanimously to support a four-team national playoff containing the four highest-ranked teams, thus rejecting the concept that only conference champions should be included. The vote mirrored the views shared by coaches earlier in the week.

There had been talk of implementing a 12-year cycle for the league schedule, but commissioner Mike Slive said the 6-1-1 will be used for three or four years before being revisited. The 2013 schedule should be announced at some point this summer.

"The idea that you will be able to schedule for 10 or 12 years out can't happen any longer," Slive said. "The league is free to look in on the format any time it wishes."

With the 6-1-1 format, the floating foe from the opposite division will rotate on an annual basis and not a home-and-home basis. League officials said mapping out those matchups would be done randomly.

Newcomers Missouri and Texas A&M will play this season as cross-divisional rivals, but Missouri's Tigers will play Arkansas in future years while the Aggies will face South Carolina. Texas A&M never has faced the Gamecocks, and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier did not seem overly upset earlier this week that Arkansas is in its last season as his school's cross-divisional foe.

"They've been kicking our butts the last few years," Spurrier said. "We have lost seven games the last two years, and five of them are to Auburn and Arkansas. That doesn't make sense, does it? We are pretty good against those other guys, I guess, but those guys have kicked our tails.

"I don't know how much of a rivalry we have with them."

An 18-game schedule in men's basketball also was adopted, and it calls for Florida-Kentucky, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Alabama-Auburn and Georgia-South Carolina to be among the annual rivalries. Tennessee no longer will play Kentucky twice in most seasons.

The SEC tournament now will begin on a Wednesday with play-in games for teams that finish 11th through 14th.

League presidents and ADs also voted to make equestrian a championship sport. The only league schools that compete are Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M.

"For the four institutions that sponsor equestrian, this is a big deal," McGarity said. "Now our 60-plus student-athletes can be like those in other sports and compete for an SEC championship."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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