Thursday, November 24, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: G is for Geography

G is for Geography

The new 14-team Southeastern Conference covers 11 states, spanning distances up to 1,000 miles.

Below is a chart of miles (driving) from Columbia, MO to SEC towns. Schools in BOLD are in Mizzou's Eastern Division of the SEC:
  • 311 to Fayetteville, AR (Arkansas)
  • 433 to Nashville, TN (Vanderbilt)
  • 459 to Lexington, KY (Kentucky)  
  • 477 to Oxford, MS (Ole Miss)
  • 576 to Starkville, MS (Mississippi State)
  • 609 to Knoxville, TN (Tennessee)
  • 620 to Tuscaloosa, AL (Alabama)
  • 733 to Auburn, AL (Auburn)
  • 734 to Athens, GA (Georgia)
  • 772 to Baton Rouge, LA (LSU)
  • 779 to College Station, TX (Texas A&M)
  • 871 to Columbia, SC (South Carolina)
  • 1,009 to Gainesville, FL (Florida)
That's an average of 645 miles from Columbia to SEC schools.  686 miles average to the SEC East schools; 609 miles average to the SEC West.  Let's hope that the next SEC expansion (to 16 schools) results in Mizzou in the mosre geographically logical West Division.

Graphical representation of mileage at

The team itself may not be traveling on the highways much, though.
As for long bus trips to distant SEC schools that could cause more class time to be missed, [MU Softball coach Ehren] Earlywine said that in consideration of all SEC baseball teams using charter aircraft, there has been discussion that Missouri will do the same for both baseball and softball. (, 11/7/11)
Original Southern
Conference logo
Interestingly, the SEC was originally formed because the existing Southern Conference had way too many members, spread across to large a geographical footprint (although no one at the time used footprint to define geography). SEC History: Origin Of The 12 Teams ( provides a good overview of the conference's geography-driven origins and history:
The country’s preeminent modern football conference suddenly came into being on the evening of December 9, 1932, when then-Florida President John J. Tigert announced that his institution and 12 other schools had left the larger Southern Conference, effective immediately, to form the Southeastern Conference. Tigert’s announcement came at the Southern Conference’s annual meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, the home of one of the breakaway schools. Tom Perrin, who authored a history of college football in 1987, wrote, “The main reasons for the rupture were geographical distance, travel time and expense, a great disparity between the large and small schools in the conference, and the fact that half the schools did not play each other from one year to the next, if at all.”
. . .
The Associated Press reported on December 10, 1932, “The unwieldy Southern Conference has split along geographical lines and out of the break today emerged a new group of thirteen schools, mostly of the deep South, to be known as the Southeastern Conference.” This group included the core of today’s SEC — Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt — along with Georgia Tech, Tulane, and Sewanee (also known as the University of the South). The remaining Southern Conference schools were all located in Maryland, Virginia or the Carolinas: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, Washington & Lee, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, South Carolina and Clemson; seven of those schools — along with Wake Forest, which joined the Southern Conference in 1936 — left in 1953 to form the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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