It's not just speculation anymore: Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs wants the Tigers moved to the SEC East, and he's going to bring it up during the SEC's spring meetings this week.
"It makes more sense for Auburn from the standpoint of the demographics of our students, not our student-athletes," Jacobs told Brandon Marcello of 247Sports. "Six or eight years ago, I looked at all the demographics. Most of all our students come from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, a few from Mississippi, very few from Louisiana. Since we went to the national championship twice, we've got more geographical students from all over the place, but still, the majority of our students come from the southeast."
While Jacobs brings up the demographics of his school, the logic of Auburn being in the East is also evident in the school's rivals. Of the five SEC schools that could be considered Auburn's rivals, only two are in the SEC West: Alabama and LSU. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all reside in the East, and Auburn hasn't played the Vols since 2013 or the Gators since 2011. In fact, the Florida-Auburn rivalry used to be one of the best in the SEC.
Furthermore, the idea of Auburn in the East just makes sense geographically. The only schools in the SEC located further west than Missouri are Arkansas and Texas A&M, yet Missouri plays in the SEC East. Meanwhile Auburn is a shorter drive to Athens, Georgia, than it is to Oxford, Mississippi.
As for how serious Jacobs is about the move, he also said on Wednesday that he'd actually be willing to move the date of the annual Iron Bowl with Alabama if needed in order to accommodate the move, but he would also want to make sure Auburn keeps its annual rivalry game.
This would likely necessitate the SEC changing its permanent cross-division rivalries, meaning the Tide would have to give up their annual showdown with the Vols. (Auburn's rival is Georgia, which it would play in the new SEC East.)
Jacobs also believes there's a realistic chance that the SEC will listen and agree with the prospective move.
"My sense of it, and I feel I've got a pretty good sense of it, everybody is interested in what is going to make us all very competitive," Jacobs said. "I don't really think other ADs think about it one way or the other which [division] I'm in. What fills up our stadiums on Saturday [is important], and Missouri playing Florida, does that help fill up Florida's stadium with those fans having to travel so far? It's not just football: it's volleyball, it's tennis, it's everything we do."
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey does not think there will be any long discussion of the topic -- at least this year. "I've talked to Jay," Sankey said. "It's still not an agenda item."
Personally, I think the SEC could solve a lot of these problems by adopting a nine-game conference schedule. That way it could not only move Auburn to the East, but it could help ensure it's 14 teams play one another on a more regular basis no matter divisional alignment.
If the SEC wanted to be a trendsetter, it could just ditch the concept of divisions altogether. SB Nation's Bill Connelly and Jason Kirk have worked on a scheduling concept without divisions that makes a lot of sense and ensures regular meetings between all 14 teams in a conference.
We're probably getting a bit ahead of ourselves there. Clearly, Jacobs and Auburn would settle for a move to the East right now.