Steve Spurrier is gone, but “talking season” is still alive and well in the Southeastern Conference.
“Talking season” is what the former South Carolina head coach dubbed pretty much everything between the end of one season and the start of the next. With no actual football to inform our conversations, we fill the void with just about anything we can find.
Sometimes the diversions are meaty and meaningful, recruiting or spring practice or even the occasional summer conditioning program mention for instance. Many times, though, it’s simply talking.
That’s where we are with this “Auburn to the SEC East” business. The conference’s story of the day was spawned from a conversation between an ESPN reporter and Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn. In that conversation, Malzahn made mention of a scenario where his team could play in the SEC East rather than its traditional home in the SEC West.
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“I think there will be some discussion on that,” Malzahn said.
Since then, the office of the Auburn president has issued a statement to SECCountry.com saying, “We’re not involved in or aware of any discussions on conference realignment.”
Too late. The Talking Season Caravan already had pulled onto the expressway by that point. In the middle of April, it doesn’t take much to get the wheels rolling.
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on Malzahn’s part. It’s bad enough to consistently play second fiddle in your home state without living in the same division as Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, who put as many resources into football as anybody in the country and a lot more than most.
These days – when Ole Miss is good and Arkansas and Mississippi State are respectable on top of the usual suspects – it can’t be any fun at all playing the SEC West.
The SEC East looks much more inviting at the moment. Still, other than making Gus Malzahn’s life easier, there’s no reason for a change at the moment other than putting Missouri in the SEC West, which clearly makes the most geographic sense.
The can of worms it opens however is not worth the trouble. The biggest logistical hurdle would be how to preserve both Auburn vs. Alabama and Alabama vs. Tennessee as yearly games. The conference schedule already is planned out through 2025. Why fix something that’s not broken?
Just keep talking.
West to East?
A look at Auburn the past five seasons: where they finished in the SEC West and where they would have finished in the East: