SEC fans across the country got some encouraging words on Sunday night, after SEC presidents and chancellors voted to keep the current scheduling system. The current format of 6-1-1 — including all six division opponents, one permanent cross-division rival and one rotating opponent — is one that fans of the SEC were more than content with. One fanbase that was particularly happy with the ruling was the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have played cross-division rival Auburn Tigers for well over 100 years.
In what has become known as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, the game has been played 117 times as of the 2013 season. The rivalry dates back to 1892 and has been played every year, with the exception of three instances during both World War I and World War II. The rivalry has created many classic football games that are engrained in the minds of both programs. It is also the seventh most played college football series.
When word came out that the conference was looking at the possibility of changing the scheduling format, fans of the Bulldogs and the Tigers were worried that the rivalry was in jeopardy. Luckily, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC felt the same way as the fans. The move would have been devastating to both programs as the series has created a love-hate relationship between the two schools. Taking away that rivalry would have been a terrible decision.
The college football world has seen much change in recent memory. What used to be about tradition and respect has become more about money and lucrative TV deals. Changing the scheduling format in the SEC would have been just another huge mistake for college football. The leaders of the conference definitely made the right decision, and Bulldog and Auburn fans can now breath a sigh of relief.
Hopefully for years to come, the rivalry can bring more instant classics. What would it be like without moments like the Bulldogs’ Michael Johnson‘s game-winning catch to propel Georgia to the 2002 SEC Championship or last year’s tipped pass to Auburn’s Ricardo Louis that essentially sent the Tigers to the 2014 National Championship? Well, thankfully we won’t have to worry about that. It’s great when a decision is made for the greater good of the sport loved by many.