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Auburn AD wants changes for annual games vs. Alabama, Georgia

Auburn athletic director Allen Greene wants to see alterations to future meetings between the Tigers and annual rival opponents: the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide.

Auburn will still play Georgia and Alabama every season, but Greene has said the Tigers don’t want to play both opponents during the final three weeks of the regular season. The current schedule framework has existed since 1948.

“It doesn’t matter (how spaced out the games are), just not having to play Georgia and Alabama in the last three games of the year — just some breathing room,” Greene said Thursday after speaking to the Auburn Touchdown Club, per AL.com. “I think it’s better for the conference that way as well.”

Auburn won the SEC West last season, defeating Georgia and Alabama in the process. It was the first time since 2013 that the Tigers beat the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide in the same regular season. The same also happened in 2010, but then you have to go back to 2005 to find the next occurrence of Auburn knocking off both of its arch rivals in the same season.

Greene told reporters that scheduling was the most-discussed topic by people in attendance for the Auburn Touchdown Club event, although any potential changes would likely have to wait until 2020. Currently, Auburn has UMass scheduled for Nov. 14, 2020, the week that the Tigers would normally travel to Athens to face Georgia. The date could still be moved, but if not then it would be the first time in 72 years that the Georgia and Alabama games don’t both occur during the final three weeks of Auburn’s schedule.

“It’s possible,” Greene said. “The league is working on the schedules now, and we certainly shared with them our desire to spread those games out, so we’ll see how it ends up in 2020.”

There is also a push by Auburn to alter having to play the games against Alabama and Georgia on the road in even years on the calendar and at home in the odd years. However, any changes to that dynamic likely wouldn’t be on the table until 2025, when the current 12-year SEC scheduling rotation ends.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has previously expressed his support for having the games rotated, which was the case prior to the 2012 season. Georgia suffered in the short term during the SEC’s expansion to 14 teams. The Bulldogs had to travel to Auburn in back-to-back seasons (2012 and 2013), but it’s the Tigers who have suffered in the long term by playing their biggest rivals —and main competitors for the SEC title — on the road within a period of 14 days in even years.

“The big thing is having them staggered: one at home, one away,” Malzahn said in May. “That would probably be the best for those two at the end. Last year it was two at home, this year it’s two away. You look at 2010, we played Georgia at home, we played Alabama away. That would be my wish.”

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