This the "Topp Rope," a biweekly SEC football column from the USA TODAY Network's Blake Toppmeyer.
The SEC hasn’t revealed how Texas and Oklahoma joining the conference in 2025 will affect football scheduling. Two eight-team divisions or four four-team scheduling pods are the likely possibilities, and signs point toward the SEC expanding to a nine-game conference schedule.
However it shakes out, the conference almost certainly will want to preserve a rivalry weekend finish to the regular season.
In the current landscape, the final week of the regular season includes the Iron Bowl, Egg Bowl and a few matchups involving ACC teams that should be left unaltered, if possible.
Of course, a simple solution would be to have Texas and Oklahoma play in the Red River Shootout on rivalry weekend, but that matchup is traditionally played in mid-October, and I don’t see a need to move it.
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Rather, here’s how I suggest constructing the final weekend of the regular season once the SEC expands to 16 teams:
Alabama vs. Auburn (Iron Bowl)
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State (Egg Bowl)
Florida vs. Florida State (Sunshine Showdown)
Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate)
Kentucky vs. Louisville (Governor’s Cup)
Arkansas vs. LSU (Battle for the Golden Boot)
Missouri vs. Oklahoma
South Carolina vs. Clemson
Texas vs. Texas A&M
Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt
Such a setup would disrupt the annual Arkansas vs. Missouri Battle Line Rivalry, as the SEC dubs it, but that rivalry feels forced anyway. Missouri’s top rivalries were formed in the Big Eight, and Oklahoma joining the SEC offers an opportunity to restore one of those rivalries. The Tiger-Sooner Peace Pipe was awarded to the winner in series until the mid-1970s, when the trophy went missing.
Currently, LSU and Texas A&M play on rivalry weekend, but better to restore the Longhorns vs. Aggies rivalry that traditionally was played around Thanksgiving until Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC.
Aggies officials were surly when the SEC admitted Texas, but get over it. The best part of this conference expansion, from a fan’s perspective, is the restoration of lost rivalries, and Texas-Texas A&M was one of college football’s greatest Thanksgiving traditions.
Furthermore, Arkansas vs. LSU has been a good rivalry since the Razorbacks began SEC competition in 1992, and shifting the Battle for the Golden Boot to rivalry weekend would give the game better exposure.
So long, Dan Mullen
Dan Mullen tried to be funny throughout his tenure as Florida’s coach, but it never came naturally to him. Mullen came off more as a goofy uncle than a natural quipster like former Gators coach Steve Spurrier.
In fact, the coach who delivered the final blow to Mullen’s tenure, Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, embodies more of Spurrier’s ability to skillfully needle opposing coaches.
During an appearance on Jacksonville, Florida, radio station 92.5-FM this week, Drinkwitz was asked if he found any irony in the fact that Missouri handed Mullen the loss that ended his tenure after what happened last season. Mullen got involved in a halftime brawl between the teams in 2020 and then showed up to his postgame news conference in a Darth Vader costume.
Drinkwitz delivered a comeuppance Saturday after Missouri’s 24-23 overtime victory when he pulled up the hood of his sweatshirt, uttered “May the Force be with you,” and produced a toy lightsaber.
“My father-in-law is a farmer, and there’s an old saying: You reap what you sow,” Drinkwitz said on 92.5-FM. “I believe this: Just like everything else, if you sow kindness, you reap kindness. If you sow jackass-ability, you get jackass-ability. I’ve done my fair share of jabbing people and know that it will come back to you. I think it’s just part of the game.”
Before the season, Drinkwitz offered this in what proved prescient: “Darth Vader doesn’t win in the end.”
How Bryan Harsin can ‘fit’ into the SEC
The honeymoon is finished for first-year Auburn coach Bryan Harsin, and the hand-wringing begins over whether the Idaho native with no prior SEC experience will be a fit at Auburn. The Tigers (6-5, 3-4) will take a three-game losing streak into the Iron Bowl.
Certainly, having experience within the conference and a background in the South can work to an SEC coach’s advantage, but let’s not forget that the greatest college football coach of all time, Alabama’s Nick Saban, is a West Virginia native and Kent State alumnus who had never worked in the SEC before LSU hired him as its coach. And former Florida coach Urban Meyer, one of the most successful SEC coaches in the past 20 years, is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and a Cincinnati alumnus. He, too, had never worked in the SEC before winning two national championships as the Gators’ coach.
Yes, fit matters, especially when booster approval is a factor in remaining employed. But winning matters more. Harsin will find he fits in better on the Plains if he wins more games next season.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: How will Texas, Oklahoma affect SEC football rivalry week schedule?