A collegiate sports calendar without Georgia and Auburn football battling in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry isn’t one that includes college football at all, said 247Sports’ Benjamin Wolk during a conversation with Auburn Daily’s Zac Blackerby.
“It’s already going to be weird next year, Georgia not playing South Carolina,” Wolk said (h/t Auburn Daily). “I find that one a weird one. But if Georgia doesn’t play Auburn, I mean, that’s not even college football to me.”
With there being one annual rival in the revamped SEC in 2024 when Texas and Oklahoma make the jump from the Big 12, there’s no guarantee that AU and UGA will continue to wage war across state lines and time zones. The likeliest course of action would be having the game played as a non-conference game every other year in the way UNC and Wake Forest have played in the past when the ACC doesn’t naturally pit them against each other. A switch to nine conference games and perhaps a second locked-in rivalry could be the most profitable move by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
Georgia and Auburn football are not each other’s top conference rival
As great as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is, it’s not the top rivalry for either Georgia or Auburn football; the latter’s is Alabama in the Iron Bowl and the former’s is the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against Florida in the Sunshine State’s Jacksonville. Wolk pointed that out to Blackerby.
“Well, I think the Georgia side of it is if you’re only allowed to have one annual common opponent like everyone’s going to want Florida as that matchup,” Wolk said, “And I think likewise, Auburn would want Alabama as that matchup. So would The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry be what gets lost in that.”
Again, Sankey likely has the solution that keeps profits at their highest — and that will more than likely simultaneously preserve tradition as well.