Earlier this week, Georgia AD Greg McGarity said that the SEC was examining 13-team schedules only for 2012. A 14-team plan hadn’t been discussed at all, according to McGarity.
Well, Burke Magnus — ESPN’s senior VP of college sports programming — has told Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News a different story. According to Solomon, Magnus said the SEC is “feverishly” trying to work through 13- and 14-team schedules for 2012.
“I think both of those schools — Texas A&M and I don’t think Missouri is official yet, but it’s suspected — will be good. I think they’re going to strengthen the brand without diluting the core, which has been incredibly valuable to us.”
Regarding ESPN’s current contract with the SEC and how it might change, Magnus said, “I’ve never been part of a discussion where the two sides can’t work it out… You get together and talk about the value in the world as we see it, and the value in the world as they see it.”
Might an SEC Network be in the offing between the two entities? Magnus told Solomon that it was “hard to say.” “It’s very hypothetical at this point, I get the sense. It is not active from our perspective at all.”
(The idea of an SEC Network has gained steam in recent weeks and one site promises to present possible financial numbers for such a network later this week. We, of course, pointed to the possibility of a conference network all the way back in May of 2010, when most everyone assumed that the prospects for a conference-owned channel had died.)
But for those who believe the SEC has only been working on a 13-team schedule plan because it has known all along that Missouri would be trapped in the Big 12, think again. Despite what league officials have been saying, a top exec with one of their two broadcast partners says the SEC has indeed been planning for a 14-team league in 2012.
That shouldn’t shock anyone. It’s just good business to be prepared for both options.