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Georgia Football Schedule 2012: Swapping Missouri For Alabama Would Test Tradition

When the Southeastern Conference releases its official 2012 football schedule sometime soon (just not too soon), expect mass panic initially and enough grumpy conjecture to fill the entire offseason.

Case in point - is it better for the defending SEC Eastern Division Champion Georgia Bulldogs to drop BCS National Title participant Alabama for (comparatively) lowly newcomer Missouri? If reports indicated such a swap are true, the Bulldogs will certainly gain an easier shot at a conference win, but lose out on a potentially huge in-season match-up in Tuscaloosa.

Pick your side: Georgia lost to preseason favorite South Carolina in Week 2 of the regular season, but edged the Gamecocks in the standings thanks largely in part to a lighter cross-division schedule down the stretch (Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn, versus USC's Auburn, Arkansas and Mississippi State). Losing the Tide and gaining a .500 opponent can only help your chances at repeating as division champs.

Then again: Titanic in-season clashes are the fabric of the Southeastern Conference, a cloth that's been absent of the Bulldogs in recent years. While programs like the Tide, Florida, LSU and Arkansas have enjoyed the spotlight, ticket revenue, pollster attention and branding power of Top 10 match-ups these last few seasons, Georgia's been largely ignored. Win or lose at Bama, the 2012 SEC East is considered to be as weak (if not worse) than 2011, and even a close loss against the Tide would keep Georgia in the national conversation, somewhere they haven't been in a long time.

And while we're asking big, complicated questions: What's more valuable, SEC: The windfall of huge ratings and revenues for your LSU/Bamas, or the addition of new TV markets that are now likely coming at the expense of potentially huge in-season games?

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.