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Vols not to worry if Texas, Oklahoma join SEC




Talk about a big bomb. In the heat of the SEC Media Days, reports came out that could scare not only Tennessee football fans, but fans of every team in the league. Speaking of expansion, nearly ten years after the last expansion, it has returned to the conference.

According to an exclusive report by Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners want to leave the Big 12 and have contacted the SEC. The move would expand the league to 16 teams if it happened, and it would include four of the top 10 winning FBS shows of all time and seven of the top 15.

Simply put, this would be a super conference. However, Tennessee football could benefit from this move if you look beyond the initial changes that come with it. Let’s explain why here.

First, if this happened, there would be a cleaner way to split the divisions. The Missouri Tigers would move back to the SEC West, and the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers would move to the SEC East. Texas and Oklahoma would also be in the West.

Okay, so it’s rougher on the surface as two more powerhouses join the East. However, the Vols have been playing in Alabama every year, with only one other SEC team going up against the Tide. As a result, if they were to compete for Eastern titles again, a major disadvantage within their division would be negated by this move.

Every team in the East would have to deal with the additions of Auburn and Alabama, and they couldn’t avoid the only powerhouse team from the West that only has to play Rocky Top every year. That alone is a big problem.

In addition, for people who care about traditions, important “rivals” can be repaired with this step. Yes, we put rivalry in quotes. Either way, Tennessee football would go back to playing Alabama and Auburn on an annual basis, as they did every year from 1956 to 1991, and they would still keep all their traditional Eastern rivals.

Then comes the advantage that the Vols can get in the West. There is a chance that the competition will go on a rotational basis with each team from the other division. However, if expanded to nine games, each team can still have a traditional rivalry from the other side.

Should that happen, the Vols will have four teams from the West they’ve ever faced on an annual basis. One of them is Mizzou, who they now deal with annually. Another is the Arkansas Razorbacks, which they encountered every year from 1992 to 2002. The Mississippi State Bulldogs were a traditional rival during the Robert Neyland years.

One team that stands out, however, is the Ole Miss Rebels, a team the Vols had to deal with annually, like Auburn until the SEC split into two divisions in 1992. You could bring that back with all the traditional rivals and split the new ones created with that division, and it would mean more now with Lane Kiffin in Oxford, Miss.

But beyond all that, Ole Miss would be a lucky annual draw for Tennessee football. Florida would have yet to sign the LSU Tigers, and the teams that draw Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M would also have to go down a brutal road. It’s probably a safe bet that UT isn’t drawing any of those guys.

The last concern would be about how the SEC is beating each other up for being so loaded, keeping teams out of the playoff. Well, if you’re a Vol fan, the playoff is irrelevant at this point anyway, and if the Vols become a perennial contender again, it will be when the playoff expands to 12 teams. At that point, the excessive competition in the league doesn’t matter.

From a national perspective, the SEC is strong enough, and there’s no reason to add more powerhouse teams. However, that is kind of negated when you consider the effect it will have on Tennessee football, and there are many ways the Vols can take advantage of this move. In general it is not a real concern.




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