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Headlinin’: ‘Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry’ could be the next casualty of SEC expansion

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

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Making the morning rounds.

They said it couldn't happen here. The Georgia-Auburn series has survived the turning of two centuries and two world wars. But it may not survive conference expansion, according to UGA athletic director Greg McGarity, who said Wednesday that the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC lineup — thereby reducing the number of cross-divisional games per year from three to two — may end the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" as an annual institution. The tradition could be preserved if the SEC decided to follow the other major conferences' lead by adopting a nine-game conference schedule, but that's not going to happen anytime soon, and anyway, a nine-game SEC slate could threaten traditional non-conference rivalries like Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech and South Carolina-Clemson. Because you don't honestly expect them to drop those dates with The Citadel and UT-Chattanooga, do you?

"I think if you ask Alabama and Tennessee, like us and Auburn, we'd like to retain the games," McGarity told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But does that work? What do the other 10 schools think? Those four schools like having those games but there's no other East-West match-up that has that piece of history to it. So I don't where that fits in. … With 14 teams, not everybody will be happy." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

We can sleep tonight knowing you're on that wall, Nate. Speaking of traditional non-conference rivalries: A proposal in the South Carolina legislature that would have mandated the annual Clemson-South Carolina game by state law was unanimously shot down Wednesday by a House subcommittee, which voted 7-0 in opposition. The Tigers and Gamecocks have played every year since 1909, the second-oldest continuous streak in the FBS (behind only Minnesota and Wisconsin, which have played every year since 1890), and both universities insist there is no realistic threat to the series.

"I still think there's the possibility in the future that the game could be in jeopardy," said Rep. Nathan Ballentine, who introduced the measure. "If that happens, I stand ready to help if the situation changes." [The State]

But who gets the dog? Multiple outlets Wednesday reported that the ongoing legal struggle over West Virginia's defection from the Big East to the Big 12 may be close to being resolved, most likely at great expense to the Mountaineers. According to CBS Sports, West Virginia is on the verge of settling with the Big East for $20 million, allowing WVU to join the Big 12 immediately with no strings attached; the local Charleston Gazette puts that number at $11 million on WVU's end, with the Big 12 likely pitching in to make up the difference.

At this point, the only remaining hurdle may be whether one of the five new members set to join the Big East next year can be convinced to make the move a year early to replace West Virginia on conference schedules. If not, the rest of the league may be forced to get creative. [CBS Sports, Charleston Gazette, Newark Star-Ledger]

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I'm still here. LSU's offensive line got a major boost Wednesday with word that starting guard Josh Dworaczyk has been granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing the entire 2011 campaign with a preseason knee injury. Prior to that, Dworaczyk started 26 consecutive games in 2009 and 2010, experience he put to use last year as a sort of volunteer assistant coach during games. [Baton Rouge Advocate]

No word on how he simulated the "Jump Around." How did Russell Wilson pick up Wisconsin's offense so fast last summer? A lot of study and a little bit of trespassing: In an interview with his new agency, Wilson — a late transfer from N.C. State with only one season of eligibility to make good at Wisconsin — said he would occasionally sneak into Camp-Randall Stadium at night to get a feel of the venue and the offense before the start of preseason practice.

"I got there July 1 and my goal was to learn the playbook by July 21," Wilson said. "That way when I stepped into the huddle for the first time, they realized that I was a leader and ready to take over. It was hectic. I was in the film room by myself a lot. I also have a huge whiteboard at home where I can draw out all of the routes. I'd sneak into Camp Randall all by myself with no lights on and just go through my progressions on the 50-yard line." [IMG Academies, via Wisconsin State Journal]

Quickly… Joe Paterno's memorial services cost Penn State $29,000. … Ohio State proposes installing an "integrity czar" to oversee NCAA compliance, among other things. … Miami suspends running back Darion Hall for (all together now) an unspecified violation of team rules. … USC receivers lobby for ex-Trojan Keary Colbert as their new position coach. … Someone stole Junior Hemingway's postseason swag. … Danny O'Brien mulls his future at Maryland. … Michigan's uniforms will begin shifting back to actual Maize. … And who would have guessed two years ago that Ndamukong Suh would ever wind up on a list like this?

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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