SEC star says what everyone is thinking about missing game on annual schedule

Tonka Hemingway, South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Tonka Hemingway, South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

With the SEC expanding to 16 teams in 2024, South Carolina star Tonka Hemingway is really going to miss the Gamecocks’ annual rivalry with the Georgia Bulldogs going forward.

During SEC Media Days in Nashville, South Carolina standout Tonka Hemingway said what we are all thinking about conference expansion: Let’s not kick awesome secondary rivalries like Georgia and South Carolina to the curb, just to play everybody else a bit more.

From casuals to diehards, we all seem to agree that adding Oklahoma and Texas to the league in 2024 is a good thing, as is getting rid of antiquated divisions that don’t serve us anymore. Where it gets a little dicey is if, and probably when, the SEC goes to a nine-game conference schedule. Beginning in 2024, it will got a 7-1 format with seven rotating games and one annual rivalry game.

Because Georgia’s two biggest rivals are Florida and Auburn, in that order, a really awesome border war with South Carolina’s biggest foe besides Clemson will have to go to the wayside.

Hemingway knows how cool this game is, and it is a shame that it is no longer an annual affair.

"“Conference game? I definitely probably say that Georgia game. I feel like even the fans love that game. It’s always a good turnout. Not that far from South Carolina, so…”"

I feel like I am taking crazy pills that the SEC won’t embrace a nine-game conference schedule. It makes too much sense financially, as Greg Sankey and the rest of the league office can bring an additional eight games annually to market. The other big thing is these secondary and tertiary annual rivalries are what have allowed the SEC to separate from the pack. It just means more…

Georgia should play Auburn, Florida and South Carolina annually in a 6-3 format. Figure. It. Out!

Tonka Hemingway: Georgia vs. South Carolina should be an annual SEC rivalry

Look. This goes far beyond anything Hemingway said in Nashville this week. Like, the way the 7-1 format is set up, unbelievable secondary SEC rivalries are about to get cooked. Look no further than the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry between Auburn and Georgia and the Third Saturday in October between Alabama and Tennessee. We simply cannot let these rivalry series die, people…

While I appreciate getting new, fun and cool games on the schedule more frequently, such as Georgia vs. Oklahoma and South Carolina vs. Texas, don’t compromise the product to please people who don’t particularly care about it. People fall in love with SEC football because of these rivalry games, not the matchups you hardly ever see. Rivalry games always raise a game’s stakes.

Overall, we should be thankful that the 7-1 format has only been adopted for the 2024. It serves Sankey and the rest of the league office to be patient and flexible in this. Learn from the other league’s successes and failures. Eventually, I fully anticipate the money, the opportunities and everything we want in the end will come from a nine-game schedule. We. Need. A. Sports. Czar…

For now, we’re just going to have to accept that this particularly border war has been marginalized.

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