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Options Slim for Hogs with One Set Rival

Changes to SEC schedule might leave Arkansas with awkward permanent pairing

DESTIN, Fla. – When SEC members hit the white sands of Destin next week as the league resumes its annual paid vacation, there will actually be legitimate business to discuss for once.

We'll cover several items expected to make the agenda in the coming days, but the first of several items being bandied about is a schedule that could feature a single permanent rival for each team with all other conference games rotating between schools. 

If this were to become a thing, schools like Alabama and Georgia won't have much to worry about. Alabama will get to keep dancing with Auburn, Georgia gets to keep partying with Florida, and the world among the schools that think they run the conference will be good. 

But what about teams like Arkansas? When you start listing the gimme pairings, the Razorbacks don't make the list. 

Here are the obvious locks:

Alabama-Auburn

Georgia-Florida

Ole Miss - Mississippi State

Texas - Oklahoma (This is still too weird to think about. I'll believe it when I see it and still won't be able to think of Texas as an SEC school)

That's pretty much it. Tennessee technically has Vanderbilt left as a rival with Alabama and Florida off the board, but Kentucky seems the most likely fit. 

Arkansas, LSU and Texas A&M would be left in an awkward three-way, which would probably come down to the wishes of ESPN. If that's the case, LSU and Texas A&M would get the nod. 

That leaves the Razorbacks with Missouri, Vanderbilt and South Carolina as options. No one in Arkansas wants to be stuck with Missouri and the failed manufactured rivalry the league has tried to force upon the Hogs.

It's out of sheer Southern hospitality that this charade has been allowed to be tolerated for as long as it has.

The best fit for Arkansas out of the remaining options would be South Carolina. These two schools came in together and played as permanent rivals for a long time with the Razorbacks holding a 13-10 series edge.

Meanwhile, Missouri and Vanderbilt have their AAU designation and color schemes in common while also being relatively close to one another in terms of SEC travel. It seems to be a much more natural fit than Arkansas, especially considering they have played each year as division opponents.

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However, if whispers of Oklahoma State slipping into the conference at the 12th hour turn out to be more than just that, then everything falls into alignment. 

Suddenly, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are back on in Bedlam, Texas and Texas A&M is back on the table even though the Aggies should have outgrown that rivalry by now no matter how bad Texas needs it to be a thing, which leaves Arkansas facing LSU in a series that has been one of the best in the SEC even in years the teams seems mismatched.

If the Cowboys were to find a way into the league, another team would need to follow, most likely from the eastern part of the country. With what's on the table next week, it's possible the death of the ACC could be spoken into existence, which means South Carolina wouldn't be without a natural SEC rival for long.

But that's a discussion for another day.


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