SEC elevates Arkansas-Missouri games to rivalry status
Tigers-Hogs clashes are elevated by the SEC to big-game, yearly status.By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Missouris Border War with Kansas might be over for the foreseeable future, but it looks as if Tiger fans will have another bordering state to spar with in the near future.
On Friday morning, the final day of the Southeastern Conference spring meetings at the Hilton Sandestin, the leagues athletic directors and presidents voted to make Arkansas the Tigers cross-division rival in its newly adopted scheduling formats for both football and basketball.
I think that with Arkansas and Missouri, thats a natural rivalry, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said. The (fan bases) have a lot of similarities in various ways.
The fact Missouri will be paired up with Arkansas as rivals in both sports was hardly a surprise. Football coach Gary Pinkel hinted as much earlier in the week, also adding that at one point he had expected Missouris cross-division rival to be Texas A&M, which could have helped Missouri maintain its recruiting pipeline to Texas.
However, Alden said Friday that he and Pinkel agreed that a Missouri-Arkansas permanent rivalry would be whats best for the league, adding that Missouri can maintain its presence in Texas by scheduling nonconference games there.
We feel that with Arkansas being our crossover, well be able to maintain a strong foothold in the state of Texas, Alden said. There are various ways to be able to do that, but I also think the base weve been able to establish there is really strong.
Alden didnt rule out the Arkansas football game being at a neutral site.
I would hope all of us would talk about the possibility of that happening down the line, Alden said, but I wouldnt see that happening for a couple of years.
The league also approved a 6-1-1 scheduling format for football, which calls for six games against division opponents and one each against a cross-division rival and a rotating opponent.
Some of the leagues football coaches had preferred the elimination of cross-division rivals.
However, the vote protects some of the most treasured rivalries, including Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia.
It was a healthy debate, but it was an overwhelming majority that voted for the 6-1-1, said SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who added that a lot of work remains to complete future football schedules.
The decision means that starting in 2013, it will take six years for Missouri which is in the SEC East to play home-and-homes with the entire SEC West, which is composed of Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
And for basketball, the league will adopt an 18-game format, which calls for annual home-and-homes with permanent rivals and four rotating opponents twice a year. The latter will be determined randomly, and teams will play the remaining schools in the league once in a given season. Slive said the 2012-2013 conference schedule will probably be completed by the end of July.
Also, the SEC has come to a consensus on its preferred football playoff format. Slive said the league unanimously supports a four-team playoff that contains the top four teams and offered little wiggle room on that.
I think the fans would expect us to provide the four best teams in the country one, two, three, four, he said.
Slive is receptive to discussing different ways to decide the top four teams in the nation.
Im very open to how we would do that, whether its a committee or a different set of data points, he said.
Slive said the new playoff format, which could be decided by the major conferences by the end of this month, needs to last longer than four years.
Four years means youre really dealing with it in 2½ to three years, Slive said, and thats just too short.