Nine-game SEC slate will be hot topic at annual meetings


Published: Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 12:07 a.m.

The nation's most powerful college conference has a reputation for doing things big, from its championship events, to its annual football media days in July, to its national news conference a few weeks ago announcing the formation of the SEC Network.

And so it is with the SEC's annual spring meetings. Once a quaint little event on the panhandle's Gulf Coast that went largely unnoticed, the meetings now attract media members from all over the country.

They have become so big that the SEC apparently has decided to scale back the event and, well, turn them back into just meetings again among the coaches, athletic directors and presidents and chancellors.

At this week's meetings in Destin, each media outlet will be restricted to one credential, photographers are not allowed and there will be less access to the coaches, ADs and presidents.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive, the voice of the conference, will be just that this week. He will be the only one holding news conferences. They will come at the end of each day, the final one on Friday, when Slive will announce a record payout to the league's 16 member institutions (something that happens every year).

The new restrictions may mean fewer quotes and anecdotes coming out of Destin, but there will be a lot of serious discussions going on behind closed doors.

One hot topic will continue to be scheduling in football, which also was a priority at last year's meetings, when the league voted to go with a 6-1-1 format (six division games, one permanent opponent from the opposite division and one permanent cross-division opponent) through the 2013 season.

This week, there is expected to be a strong push by some to go to an expanded nine-game SEC schedule in 2014 or at some point in the near future. It certainly should prompt some serious debate. Several coaches and athletic directors have expressed over the past year that a nine-game league schedule would be too demanding. Others have said it makes sense in the expanded league.

One aspect of the current schedule format that some of the coaches don't like is the permanent opponent from the opposite division. Perhaps the most outspoken against it has been LSU's Les Miles. The Tigers' permanent cross-division foe is Florida.

“It's interesting to see how you would compare our schedule with others,” Miles said during the SEC coaches' spring teleconference a few weeks ago. “I wonder if there should be permanent partners. I wonder if we could choose cross-division opponents through a computer draw.”

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier also is less than fond of having permanent opponents.

“If we want to be fair, we wouldn't have permanent opponents,” Spurrier said. “But nobody said it was supposed to be fair.”

Along with football scheduling, other items expected to be discussed this week are the football playoff, the SEC Network, which is scheduled to launch in 15 months, and bowl tie-ins as the league moves forward.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top