If Missouri ends up in the SEC, Alabama wants the Tigers to be competing with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee regularly, not against LSU and Auburn.
Texas A&M’s addition to the SEC has created a 13-team scheduling SNAFU that was, apparently, completely worth it to commissioner Mike Slive. But there are still questions as to whether the SEC will expand again to try and balance out the league; the primary target still looks to be Missouri.
How soon Missouri will leave the Big 12, if they leave, is unclear. Chancellor Brady Deaton hasn’t given the Big 12 a timeline and interim conference commissioner Chuck Neinas hasn’t exactly reciprocated any pressure. But if the Tigers do jump to the SEC, there’s at least one school, Alabama, who wants to see them move to the SEC East, not the more geographically-fitting (if you can even call it that) SEC West.
According to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News, Alabama would only support Missouri as a 14th member under that condition. The Tide, Solomon writes, have two goals: Keep its annual cross-division rivalry game with Tennessee, and to prevent Auburn from gaining any sort of recruiting advantage in Florida and Georgia. Auburn has volunteered to move to the SEC East if necessary, meaning they would be guaranteed to play in Florida once every two years; Auburn already has a protected inter-divisional game with Georgia.
Solomon also writes that Auburn would stay in the SEC West if Missouri was forced to move to the East. Alabama reportedly still prefers an eastern team, although the ACC aggressively raised its exit fees weeks ago.
Calm down, West Virginia. Not yet.
Solomon writes that Missouri is still the favorite, but there is hesitation about exactly how to bring in the Tigers to the conference. It could be that Deaton is pursuing damage control after an anonymous school official told the AP last week that Mizzou preferred the Big Ten, but would join the SEC because “that’s what’s left.” It could also be that the conference isn’t sure how to restructure the conference if Mizzou is brought in.
In any case, this might not be solved for a while, hence the “no timeline” comment from Deaton.