When South Carolina president Harris Pastides said over the weekend that the SEC would go to a nine-game conference schedule, we said, “told ya so.”
When SEC PR man Charles Bloom — and a host of SEC athletic directors — quickly said the league was staying at eight games per year, we said, “not for long.”
So now comes word from SEC Executive Associate Commissioner Mark Womack that the league will not go to a nine-game schedule “at this point.” So would the league ever go to a nine-game format? “I don’t know. That would be up to our ADs and presidents to look at it. The past has indicated there’s been little support for that.”
He also told The Birmingham News, “I think (Pastides) believes it’s something we’re certainly going to look at or thought it might be an idea. But it’s a topic that really hasn’t had a lot of discussion at this point.”
“At this point” being a key phrase in all of that.
As we told you yesterday, the president of an SEC school doesn’t make up theories and pass them off as fact to his own student-newspaper. Pastides said a nine-game conference schedule is coming. He said schools would have to buy out one of their upcoming non-conference games. He even guaranteed that Arkansas and South Carolina would continue playing as cross-divisional rivals. That’s a lot of details for something he “thought” the league “might” consider.
Our take on this matter remains unchanged.
The SEC’s presidents discussed scheduling on some level when they decided to vote in Missouri. To suggest they never considered scheduling or the impact it would have on their universities’ bottom lines is ridiculous.
Pastides opened his mouth on what most see as the obvious long-term fix. (We broke it down way back in October and explained why a nine-game schedule would be the best option.)
But coaches and ADs are against the move. They believe a nine-game schedule will be too difficult and could cost their schools home dates each year.
For that reason, Mike Slive is likely doing what he always does before a key vote… he’s politicking. When Slive brought up the oversigning issue heading into this past spring’s SEC meetings, most assumed the league’s presidents would defer to their coaches and vote to do nothing. We suggested that Slive wouldn’t bring the issue to a vote if he didn’t know beforehand that he had the votes needed to make changes. And he did. And the coaches were ignored. And a soft 25-man signing cap was put in place.
Slive is a sharp man. He knows that the SEC would suffer if schools like Florida and Alabama, Georgia and LSU, Arkansas and Missouri see each other just once every 12 years. He’s no doubt formulated his plan. The presidents have an idea of what that plan is.
But the athletic directors haven’t had their meeting with the commish yet. When they do, we believe they’ll walk away with the knowledge that the SEC will be going to a nine-game schedule at some point in the not-so-distant future.