Hood: My vote for Texas AM

I'm not a supporter of permanent cross-divisional opponents, so I was hoping the SEC would drop the concept when the league's athletic directors met recently in Nashville during the women's basketball tournament.
But they didn't.
Instead, South Carolina president Dr. Harris Pastides strongly suggested over the weekend that the Gamecocks would pick up Texas A&M as their permanent opponent, while the state universities from bordering states Arkansas and Missouri become yearly foes.
As they say, 50 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.
However, nothing has been finalized. The league's 12 athletic directors are scheduled to meet again this week in New Orleans prior to the start of the men's basketball tournament.
After that, the presidents will vote. This issue could go all the way to Destin, Fla., where the SEC holds its annual spring meeting in early June. A report at states a league spokesman "anticipates additional meetings during the coming months."
So, how long will it take to finalize this issue? You guess is as good as mine.
With a mammoth offensive line and superb quarterbacks, the Razorbacks have been a bad match-up for the Gamecocks for the past several years, a key reason Arkansas has won five of the last six meetings, including the last three by a combined 54 points (17, 21 and 16 points in 2009-2011).
As a result, I'm sure both Pastides, the USC coaches and players, and USC fans are tired of seeing the Razorbacks beat USC. So, the change.
But Arkansas probably supports the switch as well. If Missouri is made their permanent non-conference opponent, Razorback fans will have a much shorter trip to see their team play. Distance from Fayetteville to Columbia, S.C.? 913 miles. Distance from Fayetteville to Columbia, Mo.? 312 miles.
Easy decision if you're Arkansas.
If switching permanent opponents must be done, I like the idea of facing the Aggies every year. Texas A&M has everything in place to compete in the SEC, but they will go through an adjustment period, especially in terms of the speed of the game. In addition, College Station, Texas, should be far superior to Fayetteville, Ark., and much easier to get to. Fly to Houston and drive about 95 miles northwest.
In addition, by all accounts, Kyle Field has one of the most electric environment during a Texas A&M home game. The place overflows with tradition.
Finally, another reason for favoring A&M as USC's new permanent opponent: although Steve Spurrier has downplayed the idea, facing the Aggies every year opens the door for the Gamecocks to recruit more aggressively in the State of Texas, especially with Kirk Botkin now on the staff.
Anybody who follows recruiting knows the Lone Star State produces football talent by the mega-ton. Could USC lure one or two talented players per year from the land of cowboy hats and cattle? Possible.
Surely, Spurrier will be able to tell Texas prospects that they will be able to play in their home state at least twice in their careers.
As I've said before, the inspiration for having one permanent cross-divisional rival for each SEC team is protecting the longstanding Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia rivalries.
Unfortunately, having to deal with a permanent cross-divisional opponent is a massive inconvenience for the other eight teams. In fact, LSU and Florida have already indicated they're tired of playing each other every year.
But it looks like the annual battle between the Tigers and Gators won't be leaving us anytime soon.
Many people have voiced concerns that under the new 14-team setup, SEC schools would face the other six non-permanent teams in the opposite division just twice every 12 years.
Well, TV may not like that too much.
The proposed solution? Change the rotating schedule every year as opposed to two-year intervals, meaning USC would play the six Western Division schools besides Texas A&M once every six years as opposed to twice every 12 years. As a result, the Gamecocks would face the six other Western Division teams more frequently.
But they would host each of those six schools at Williams-Brice Stadium just once every 12 years.
Of course, a lot of these problems could be rectified if the SEC adopted a nine-game conference schedule. But that is still unlikely to happen because of the unbalanced nature of playing an odd number of conference games.
Because of the passion in the SEC, there is little chance some schools will be allowed to play five home and four road conference games, while other are forced to accept playing four at home and five on the road.
So, look for the SEC to stick with the 8-game conference slate even as other BCS conferences move to 9-game league schedules. Unquestionably, the SEC will remain at eight league games if the rules are changed by the those in charge of such matters to say schools must gain seven wins in order to attain bowl eligibility.
Stay tuned. We could hear more details later this week.
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D. McCallum