With all the news surrounding the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners attempting to join the SEC and create a 16-team super conference, all that matters to Tennessee football is how this affects the Vols. Obviously, Josh Heupel gets to be in the same conference as his alma mater, but there’s more to the story than just that.
Exactly what type of effect this has on the Vols will largely depend on how the league realigns itself. In many ways, it could work out for Rocky Top, as we broke down recently. However, there are other scenarios that could be disastrous for UT.
Given how everything could shake out, there are so many things that could alter the future of Tennessee football if the league does expand. Not all of them are good either. These are the five worst-case realignment scenarios for the Vols in the long-term if the SEC does end up adding Texas and Oklahoma.
5. SEC splits division by gulf coast/non-gulf coast
- Divisions are determined by whether or not the team plays in a state on the gulf coast
- League expands to nine games
- Tennessee still plays Alabama as cross-division rival
It’s still the Deep South, and amidst all the expansion and changing dating back to the SEC’s history, the Appalachian Mountains and Gulf of Mexico are the defining geographical factors of the region. Never in its history have fewer than half the members of the league been in a state bordering the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s exactly half now.
Given that fact, you could see the divisions change to states that border it and states that don’t. In that scenario, the Vols would be in a division with the Georgia Bulldogs, South Carolina Gamecocks, Missouri Tigers, Arkansas Razorbacks, Vanderbilt Commodores, Kentucky Wildcats and Oklahoma Sooners.
Assuming the league goes to nine games, Tennessee football would face the Alabama Crimson Tide on the other side annually. That means one less easy non-conference game plus Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma every year. Losing the Florida Gators wouldn’t help at all.