Alabama Football: Early entry by Horns and OU and pods vs. divisions

(Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

Although far from being sure, the 2023 rematch between Alabama Football and Texas could be a conference game. There is more on that possibility below, but it comes from a growing expectation that both the Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners will join the SEC for the 2023 season.

The Big 12 did not take well being rejected by their flagship teams. It was repeatedly said that unless huge buyouts were paid by the two schools, neither would be allowed an exit before the 2025 season.

The buyouts were expected to cost the two schools a combined $140M. Texas, flush with Longhorn Network money and other sources was believed to be willing to pay its share, but there was doubt Oklahoma was prepared to make a big payout.

Now that BYU, and possibly Cincinnati, Houston and UCF will join the Big 12 for the 2023 season, an earlier exit by Texas and OU is possible.

If that is the result the SEC will have to redesign its schedule structure quickly. The result might be larger east and west divisions. Splitting them on a geographical distribution would likely mean both Alabama and Auburn would move to the SEC East, with Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina.

The drawback to expanded divisions is the six division games needed would take up most of an eight or even nine-game SEC schedule. After the 10-game SEC schedule experience, there is clearly strong interest from fans for more cross-divisional games. More interest from fans translates to more dollars in future media deals so rather than expanded divisions, four-team pods will most likely become the new format.

Alabama Football and Pods

It is not known how the pods would be arranged, but logically setting them by relative proximity makes sense. Such an option is provided below.

  • Pod A – Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri
  • Pod B – Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss
  • Pod C – Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt
  • Pod D – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky

Pods would require a nine-game SEC schedule, with three games coming from inside each team’s pod. The other six games would be a rotation of two games each from the other three pods. Teams would compete more frequently than is currently done with the two seven-team divisions.

An Alabama Football schedule over a two-season period could be: Year 1 – Auburn, Tennessee, Vandy, Texas, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Florida and South Carolina. The following year, the pod opponents would be Oklahoma, Missouri, LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia and Kentucky.

Bryce Young vs. CJ Stroud in 2023 Draft. dark. Next

If Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12 early, the Longhorns vs. Crimson Tide, 2023 game is already scheduled for 2023 in Tuscaloosa.