Jim Engster: SEC expansion is far from over

SEC purists responded to the news of Texas and Oklahoma petitioning to join the conference with a response better reserved for news that Alabama and Auburn were defecting to the ACC.

It was a blockbuster announcement, but hardly an earth shaker. The migration of the Sooners and Longhorns from the Big 12 to the SEC was bound to happen, and there are four seasons to prepare for their arrival.

The SEC decided long ago that bigger was better. The additions of Arkansas and South Carolina in 1992 and Texas A&M and Missouri in 2011 have produced zero league football titles for the Razorbacks, Gamecocks, Aggies and Mizzou in 78 collective opportunities.

The SEC flexes its muscle as the strongest conference on the planet with the league champ expected to win the national championship. The league just got a steroid injection with the Sooners and Longhorns boasting 11 legitimate national football titles.

The question is will the new kids in the league make it more difficult to claim a crown.

The league risks cannibalizing itself with a pair of potent interlopers receiving admission. Not only do the newbies offer profound new opposition for two weeks of the schedule for some members, the cumulative impact of playing so many powers laden with four and five-star recruits takes its toll on postseason survivors.

It is wise for the SEC to add four teams, not two, in time for the 2025 season. By increasing membership to 18 schools, the SEC could divide its members into three six-team divisions.

The first week of league post-season competition would feature three divisional winners plus a wildcard competing for spots in the championship game while the remaining 14 members would play each other in seven other contests.

The prospect of bringing only Oklahoma and Texas into the loop means LSU would likely be divorced by geography from traditional foes Alabama and Auburn. The Tigers would face their Alabama rivals just once every eight years unless they met in the SEC championship game.

A three-division concept sets up five consistent opponents with more opportunities to occasionally face the other 12 league teams. LSU would also remain in the same division with its Alabama cohorts.

The two schools that would be ideal SEC complements to OU and UT are former members Georgia Tech and Tulane. The Yellow Jackets and Green Wave have captured eight SEC football championships. Seven current members in Arkansas, South Carolina, Missouri, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Kentucky have combined for a total of three SEC football titles.

Adding Tulane and Georgia Tech to the league would allow superpowers like LSU to retain some breathing room on the schedule, and it would move the conference into the New Orleans and Atlanta markets. It is not practical to lure Florida State and Miami into the league to get to 18 members. The competition would be too strong for even the strongest of teams to withstand a marquee matchup almost every week.

Here is one writer’s proposal for the new-look SEC for 2025 to preserve many rivalries and provide an opportunity for the best teams to stay healthy enough to compete for national honors in December and January.

Division 1

LSU

Tulane

Alabama

Auburn

Ole Miss

Miss. State

Division 2

Oklahoma

Texas

Texas A&M

Arkansas

Missouri

Vanderbilt

Division 3

Florida

Georgia

Georgia Tech

Tennessee

Kentucky

South Carolina

With eight regular season conference dates, there is a necessity for the league to preserve historical rivalries and not wear down its leading contenders for the national playoffs. A logical way to accomplish these objectives is a three-division format with four new schools admitted to the lodge in 2025.

There is more drama to come before 2025.

A decade since the infamous brawl at Shady’s

Ten years ago this month on Aug. 19, 2011, LSU football players were celebrating the conclusion of summer practice when the team was involved in a fracas at a bar located at 623 East Boyd Drive.

The showdown at Shady’s resulted in felony charges filed against LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and teammate Josh Johns.

Jefferson was suspended and did not play until the fifth game of the season on Oct. 1 vs. Kentucky. The alleged victim of Jefferson’s aggression was a former Marine named Andrew Lowery, who suffered contusions to his head, nose and hands and three fractured vertebrae.

A search of Jefferson’s apartment resembled a Keystone Cops’ caper as authorities confiscated 49 pairs of tennis shoes belonging to the pugilistic quarterback.

The Tigers did not appear to be devastated by the loss of their offensive leader. Backup QB Jarrett Lee led the Bengals to victory two weeks later as LSU blasted No. 3 Oregon 40-27 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington to open the campaign.

Former President George W. Bush was heard telling LSU fans that he was impressed by the Tigers and added, “Your quarterback needs to stop beating up my Marines.”

It was a magical season for 13 games as LSU slipped past Alabama 9-6 in overtime at Tuscaloosa to win the Game of the Century on Nov. 5th and captured the SEC title with a 42-10 blowout of Georgia on Dec. 3rd.

Thirty-seven days later, 11-1 Alabama blanked 13-0 LSU 21-0 in the Superdome to win the BCS title. If Les Miles had won, he would have tied Nick Saban with two national championships. A decade later, Saban leads Miles 7-1 in national titles. Miles’ lone crown came in the 2007 season with a roster of players recruited by Saban.

The career of Miles was never the same after the debacle at the Superdome. Five years later he was fired after losing at the gun to Auburn. In his last 56 games at LSU, starting with the Jan. 9, 2012 date against Saban, Miles was 39-17 (69.6 percent). He was 75-17 (81.5 percent) in his previous 92 games at Tigertown. Saban is 116-11 (91.3 percent) since Jan. 9, 2012 with five national titles.

Goodbye to the Cajun Prince

Four-term Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards died on July 12 at 93 years old. He served a record 16 years as governor and logged 99 months in federal prison, entering at 75 and released when he was 83.

Edwards graduated from the LSU Law School when he was 21 and was a frequent presence on campus. He was known to admire the scenery on Sorority Row and made it a practice to address the freshman class each year he was in office.

After his last victory in 1991 over fellow LSU alumnus David Duke, Edwards chose the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for his inaugural gala.

As a freshman, I recall EWE traveling to Jackson in 1977 and sitting in the stands as LSU rallied from a 21-0 deficit to beat Ole Miss 28-21. He never forgot his alma mater and made sure LSU was rewarded in capital outlay provisions.

Ten years ago, he married a 32-year-old beauty named Trina Scott as he celebrated his freedom from incarceration at 83.

“They sent me away for life, and I came out with a wife,” Edwards quipped. “A man is only as old as the woman he feels.”

5 Comments

  1. Tulane? It’s really hard to take this article seriously with that suggestion. Maybe in some alternate timeline Tulane become a major college football power but this version of reality does not include the SEC being at all interested in Tulane.

  2. I can remember as a kid, in 1958-59, that Georgia Tech and Tulane were members of the SEC. Then they left shortly after that. I like the idea of the three divisions, so LSU can play as many SEC opponents as possible in a shorter period of time. Also, what about playing nine(instead of eight)SEC foes? I do look forward to having Texas and Oklahoma in our league. Geaux, Tigers!

  3. Tulane…Tulane? I would favor Slippery Rock before Tulane at least Slippery Rock has some name recognition. Suggesting Tulane back in the SEC just made this whole article silly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


seventeen − nine =