What are the permanent cross-division opponents in future SEC football schedules?

 Third Saturday in October

Uploaded by on Oct 24, 2006

The 2006 matchup proved to be another classic in the Tennessee Alabama rivalry.


I like the new SEC schedule plan. Of course, the one permanent between divisions were hard to come up with although the Tennessee-Alabama game has a longtime history as does the Georgia-Auburn game.

SEC to discuss future football schedule format at Spring meetings

By Kevin Kelley – Tue, May 29, 2012

The 2012 SEC Spring meetings begin today at the Sandestin Hilton in Destin, Florida One of the topics this week will be the future schedule format for football.

Over the weekend, SEC schedule guru and consultant Larry Templeton indicated that the conference will likely go with the 6-1-1 format. This format means each team plays six divisional games, one permanent cross-division opponent and one rotating cross-division team.

The 6-1-1 model is what the SEC is using in 2012 after expanding to add Missouri and Texas A&M.

“I’ve been around this (SEC) group enough to know that when they get together for four days there’s a lot of things that change from Tuesday to Friday,” Templeton said, chuckling. “But I wouldn’t look for a lot of change in the permanents if truly the 6-1-1 is what we end up with.”

The 6-1-1 format allows for historical rivalries to continue, such as Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. But this model also means it will take 12 years for each team to play every team from the opposite division, compared to only five years under the old 5-1-2.

Another option for the 6-1-1 format is to play each team from the other division in succession, rather than playing one team home-and-home and then moving to the next team. In that scenario, each SEC team could play all of the other teams in the opposite division in six years rather than twelve.

The SEC should also set the permanent cross-division rivals this week. Based on comments made back in March, Arkansas will partner with Missouri while South Carolina will pair with Texas A&M. If that holds true, here is what the seven cross-division pairings will look like (East – West):

  • Florida – LSU
  • Georgia – Auburn
  • Kentucky – Mississippi State
  • Missouri – Arkansas
  • South Carolina – Texas A&M
  • Tennessee – Alabama
  • Vanderbilt – Ole Miss

After the 6-1-1 format and permanent cross-division rivals are agreed upon, Templeton needs to know how many years he can schedule that format. That could range anywhere from one to 13 years.

If the SEC does release a scheduling format for future seasons, we expect it to list the opponents for each year but not the dates. That is how the conference has historically released their football scheduling information.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2001
The third Saturday in October
By Beano Cook
Special to ESPN.com

If you are a fan of Tennessee or Alabama football there are two rules to live by: Don’t get married on the third Saturday in October, and try not to die — because in either case, the preacher might not show.

  Bear Bryant
Paul “Bear” Bryant coached Alabama to a 16-7-2 record against Tennessee.

When the SEC went to 12 teams and a new format for scheduling, the Tennessee-Alabama game wasn’t always guaranteed to be played on the third Saturday in October like it is this year. For years, the best litmus test Tennessee had for a recruit was, “Will he be there to do the job on the third Saturday in October?” If the answer was yes, it was the highest compliment a coach could give a player.

This is one of the greatest rivalries in college football, mostly because of the great coaches and players who have taken part in it. Of course, the two coaches that come to mind are Paul “Bear” Bryant and General Robert Neyland.

  Classic Friday Tailgate
  This week’s Classic Friday Tailgate features Tennessee-Alabama and USC-Notre Dame.

I want to set the record straight about something. It was General Neyland who said, “When you throw the ball, three things can happen — and two of them are bad.” He doesn’t always get credit for the quote, as it is often attributed to Woody Hayes. But it was Neyland.

There are two stories that exemplify the effect Neyland and Bryant had as the coach of their respective programs. Lindsey Nelson, the famous announcer and Tennessee graduate, was waiting for Neyland with two former Tennessee players after the 1952 Sugar Bowl, which the Vols had lost, 28-13, to Maryland.

One of the former players was smoking, and the minute Neyland came out of the dressing room, the player dropped the cigarette and stomped on it so Neyland wouldn’t see him smoking. Nelson turned to the player and said, “You don’t have to do that — you don’t play for him anymore.” The player replied, “You know that, and I know that, but I don’t think the General knows that.”

After Joe Namath won the Super Bowl and was the toast of Broadway, Namath talked to Paul Zimmerman of the New York Post. In the interview he told Zimmerman, “The Bear always said defense won games.” The next time Namath saw Zimmerman, he claimed to he was mis-quoted. Zimmerman said, “That’s what you said about the defense.” Namath answered, “Yes, I said that about the defense, but I never said ‘Bear.’ I either called him Coach Bryant or Mr. Bryant, but I never called him ‘Bear’.”

  Chat with Beano
  Chat with Beano on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.

Alabama leads the series 42-34-7. Bear Bryant had an overall winning record against Tennessee (16-7-2), but there was a stretch (1967-70) where he lost four straight years.

You can’t lose this game consistently and expect to keep your job as the head coach of either team. It’s a bigger game to Tennessee than it is to Alabama, because ‘Bama’s true rival is Auburn. But for both teams, it has stood the test of time. It’s not only a great rivalry — it’s always a great game.

Beano Cook is a college football historian for ESPN.

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