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Missouri AD on switching divisions with Auburn: We 'like where we are at' - Don't blame them...!

on 6/17/2017

SEC Football:

Whether it wanted to be or not, Missouri became caught square in the middle of SEC divisional realignment talks.

During a quiet week of SEC spring meetings, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs's push to move his school to the SEC East in place of Missouri owned the headlines.

Jacobs, following former coach Pat Dye's lead, cited geographic fit as a primary reason why there needed to be a divisional realignment.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said when you look at a map, it's "kind of like common sense."

"The thing that doesn't make sense, geographically, is the Missouri fans," Jacobs said. "The travel they have to do."

However, Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk told AL.com this week his school likes its current home in the SEC East.

"I think we're fine and like where we are at," Sterk said.

"There's been no discussion within the conference and with the commissioner about anything different. Until that point, I'm not going to speculate. But I can say we like where we are at. We've got schedules out until 2020 in football, so it's something that would take a lot."

Even if the SEC West does make more geographic sense, it's not hard to see why Missouri would prefer to stay in the East. Missouri football won two divisional titles in its first three years in the SEC.

The path to winning another divisional title is still easier for the Tigers through the East than the West as long as Nick Saban resides in Tuscaloosa. Switching divisions now could also stymie Missouri's opportunity to develop rivalries in a conference it's still the new kid in alongside Texas A&M.

Preserving long-time rivalries is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when considering divisional realignment.

Jacobs said losing its annual Iron Bowl game against Alabama was a non-starter, but that could make Alabama have to choose between that and the Third Saturday in October rivalry against Tennessee if Auburn switched divisions.


It's a logistical scheduling challenge with no one wanting to lose anything in a switch.

"I don't know all the reasons why but I think there'd have to be a lot of things that would have to happen for that even to be considered," Sterk said. "Auburn and Alabama, they aren't going to give up playing each other so how does that work?"

The topic has never been discussed in a formal capacity though Jacobs said in Sandestin he'd like to engage a football-only discussion in the next year where "everything will be on the table."

The Auburn AD says he hasn't faced any resistance on the idea of Auburn switching spots with Missouri but that there hasn't been a real discussion of it. He called it a "legitimate conversation to have at some point as a league."

David Williams, Vanderbilt's vice chancellor for athletics, told AL.com he didn't have a problem with it as long as the Commodores weren't the ones moving to the SEC West.

"It doesn't make any difference to me," Williams said. "I just like where I'm at, and hopefully they don't move us."

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