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Missouri Vs Arkansas 2014: A Friday Or Saturday Affair?

Well, here’s an interesting little twist to today’s 2014 SEC schedule release — Arkansas and Missouri don’t seem to agree on when their season-ending game will actually be played.

On Mizzou’s official website, the Arkansas game in Columbia will be played on Friday, November 28th:

mu schedule


But on the Razorbacks’ official site, the game is scheduled for Saturday, November 29th:


ua schedule


So what does the SEC have to say about this one?  They list it as a Saturday, November 29th game:


sec schedule


Missouri clearly wants the added exposure that a day-after-Thanksgiving game can bring.  Recruits are at home watching television on that day.  Arkansas officials know this, too, as they’ve enjoyed the Black Friday publicity they’ve received on numerous occasions by playing LSU on that date.

While the SEC has confirmed that their date is correct, we’ll go ahead and guess that the Arkansas/Missouri game will eventually wind up being played on Friday the 28th rather than on Saturday the 29th.  Unless CBS decides it would rather move another SEC game to Black Friday.  Auburn/Alabama, Mississippi State/Ole Miss and Tennessee/Vanderbilt are the other choices.  CBS did carry the Iron Bowl on Black Friday in 2009 and 2010 before switching back to Arkansas/LSU in 2011.

But we see no reason why Arkansas or Missouri would not want to separate their game from the rest of the pack that will be played on the following day.  If the SEC’s television partners will allow it.

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Pac-12 Releases Trailer For New Networks; Could The SEC Follow Suit In Lay-Out?

With so much talk focusing on “Project X” these days — that’d be the potential ESPN-SEC union known as the “SEC Network” — we thought we’d show you the trailer for the Pac-12′s new channels that was released by the league earlier this week.

The Pac-12 is actually taking a unique approach to its network and will create six different channels.  There will be some uniform programming across all six, but thanks to the geographical make-up of the league, the conference will pair off schools by channel.  This allows for more targeted programming and — quite frankly — appears to be another genius by commissioner Larry Scott.

Oregon and Oregon State fans should in theory be more likely to demand a network featuring more OU and OSU coverage than a network featuring coverage of all 12 schools, ’round the clock.  Ditto Washington-Washington State fans, Cal-Stanford fans, USC-UCLA fans, Colorado-Utah fans, and Arizona-Arizona State fans.

It’s a different model than that of the Big Ten, so it will be interesting to see how much fruit this plan bears.

In case you’re wondering, the SEC could also decide to go this route.  LSU-Texas A&M, Arkansas-Missouri, Ole Miss-MSU, Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Georgia, and Tennessee-Vanderbilt would all seem to be natural programming partners.  South Carolina-Kentucky might not be the most natural fit, but then again, fans in those states would most likely still prefer half of a network’s coverage than one-fourteenth of a network’s coverage.  (And, yes, we’re ballparking that because even multiple SEC networks would include quite a bit of umbrella coverage of the league as a whole.)

All that said, here’s the trailer for the Pac-12 Networks which launch in August:


Pac-12 Networks: Launching August 15

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Slive Speaks: Football Rivalries Saved, Basketball Rivalries Dumped

SEC commissioner Mike Slive has wrapped up his league’s 2012 spring meetings by sharing the following information:


* The SEC made $241.5 million dollars last year.

* $147.8 million came from football and basketball television contracts.

* The average SEC per team payout will be $20.1 million, up from $19.5 million last year (but those numbers could still rise a bit).

* Football will use a 6-1-1 scheduling model, as expected.  This at least saves some of the SEC’s oldest rivalries (Auburn-Georgia, Alabama-Tennessee, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt) as well as one of its marquee television games (Florida-LSU).  Slive said the “overwhelming” majority voted for the 6-1-1 plan.

* This 6-1-1 will feature a rotation of teams each season, so schools will go 12 years between visits to cross-division rivals.

* The 2013 schedule was not released and has not been completed.  Who plays whom in terms of rotating cross-division foes will be decided at random.

* Arkansas-Missouri and South Carolina-Texas A&M will become permanent cross-division rivals as expected.

* Horribly, the basketball schedule will feature just one permanent opponent as part of the ridiculous 1-4-8 plan.  This means that some of the SEC’s oldest rivalries (LSU-Ole Miss, LSU-MSU, Kentucky-Tennessee, and Florida-Georgia have all been played more than 200 times, for example) will no longer be home-and-home matchups each and every season.

* The permanent basketball rivals will be Alabama-Auburn, Arkansas-Missouri, Florida-Kentucky, Georgia-South Carolina, LSU-Texas A&M, Mississippi State-Ole Miss and Tennessee-Vanderbilt.

* The men’s basketball tournament will feature all 14 teams with the four lowest-seeded teams playing Wednesday night games.

* Slive said the league is dedicated to a 1-2-3-4 plan for college football’s playoff…

* But he said the SEC is open to discussing how those top four teams are chosen.

* Slive said it will “take some time to get it done” when asked about a possible SEC Network.


Instant reaction:

Obviously, we at believe for many reasons that the league would have been better off going to a nine-game conference schedule in football.  This has nothing to do with following the pack and everything to do with creating better inventory for television, protecting more rivalries, and keeping the SEC impervious to strength of schedule attacks.

By failing to adopt a nine-game slate, the SEC has needlessly given its many, many detractors ammunition.  We believe the league will eventually pay a price for that and will ultimately be forced to go to a nine-game slate at some point as a result.

As for basketball, well, Sam from “The Brady Bunch” couldn’t have butchered things more.  Instead of using a 4-1-8 plan — as we had proposed months ago — the league decided to adopt instead a 1-4-8 plan which protects just one rival per team as an annual home-and-away foe.  The millionaire coaches making these decisions lack the sense of history that their fanbases possess and therefore they’ve wiped their Berlutti shoes on decades of tradition.

The fact that Commissioner Slive allowed his coaches to make the call on this front will forever be a stain on his legacy.

Slive changed the way conferences make money with his groundbreaking television contracts in 2008.  He has overseen a “Golden Age” of on-field and in-the-coffers success (though his predecessor, Roy Kramer, deserves great credit for leaving him a solid foundation… a foundation that was not left up to the SEC’s coaches, it should be noted).

But just as Slive has proven to be a great businessman, he’s now proven to be a poor custodian, an absentee trustee when it comes to his league’s basketball heritage.  That is very disheartening.  In choosing to lead from the rear, Slive has dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds.

As for the SEC Tournament format that was adopted, well, it was the format we projected months ago, so we’re not pleased, disappointed or surprised on that front.  It was really the only sensible model that could have been implemented.

In all — and this is solely the view of this writer — the league’s dismal failure on the scheduling front makes the SEC’s current television negotiations all the more important.  If Slive can milk a helluva lot more money out of CBS, ESPN, or both, fine.  Money is money.  But if he cannot, then there’s no debating that this round of expansion will have been a step backward for the Southeastern Conference in terms of finances and tradition.

In 1992, the SEC acted boldly.  It expanded, it added conference games in football, it created a first-of-its-kind football championship game.  The long-term good of the league outweighed the wishes of the fearful, the timid and the meek.  The result has been near unparalleled success in the major sports (and at the bank) ever since.

But as Destin neared 20 years later, we began to have our own fears.  Largely, we worried that the overly-cautious in today’s SEC would be given more power through Slive’s consensus-building style.

With the SEC Meetings now history, it appears that fear has been realized.  That’s disappointing.

The SEC has been built on tradition and today some of if its greatest and oldest traditions were devalued.  Now the success of the league’s most recent additions must be judged solely on the value of the SEC’s re-worked television deals.

Money over tradition.  Gee.  Who’d have seen that coming?

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SEC Meetings Headlines – 5/31/12

Here’s a quickie look at what made news yesterday in Destin.


SEC Football Scheduling

1.  The 6-1-1 (fast rotation) plan might still be the most popular scheduling option, but a 6-2 format (with no permanent cross-division rivals) or a nine-game schedule are back from the dead.

2.  LSU AD Joe Alleva says “even though it’s unfair and inequitable” only his school, South Carolina and Texas A&M are strongly against the 6-1-1 plan.  (Then it must not be that unfair and inequitable.)

3.  Texas A&M might just replace Arkansas at the end of LSU’s football schedule.

4.  Georgia AD Greg McGarity said yesterday that schedule talks were “kind of all over the place.”

5.  Here’s another look at all the schedule possibilities being kicked about.

6.  Yet another writer believes a nine-game slate would fix a lot of the SEC’s woes.  (Too bad then that Mike Slive seems happy to leave things to his coaches and ADs to decide.)  A must read from John Clay of The Lexington Herald-Leader.

7.  New Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork basically admits that cowardice and a love of creampuffs are the only reason not to go to nine games: “From a bowl-eligibility standpoint eight games makes the most sense.” 


SEC Basketball Scheduling

1.  The 1-4-8 hoops plan seems to be the leader in the clubhouse.  The league gave the coaches the choice of keeping one, two or three permanent home-and-away opponents and the coaches liked the idea of keeping just one.  (Wonder how the fans would have voted.)

2.  The permanent home-and-away hoops matchups appear to be Florida-Kentucky, Georgia-South Carolina,  Vanderbilt-Tennessee, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Arkansas-Missouri, Alabama-Auburn, and LSU-Texas A&M.

3.  Alabama’s Anthony Grant doesn’t care what passes so long as the league gets a bunch of teams into the NCAA Tournament.

4.  LSU’s Johnny Jones says, “I think it’s great to always have a rival.”  (Imagine how great having three or four might be.)


SEC Network

1.  Here’s a look at the SEC’s potential network partnership with ESPN which is — for now — being referred to as “Project X.”  No, really.

2.  Bjork says the SEC now reaches 80 million households across its geographic footprint and that it should get good news from ESPN and CBS this summer as a result.


Spurrier’s New Proposal

1.  Last year, Steve Spurrier proposed that coaches pay some of their players — not all, just some — out of their own pockets.  Now he’s calling for athletes in the revenue-producing sports to get $3,500 to $4,000 a year.  Though all the league’s coaches claim to be in favor of aiding athletes, some realize that it would be impossible to just pay athletes in some sports.

2.  Spurrier’s latest proposal came just as his “let’s not count cross-division games” proposal was dying in committee, as expected.  Mark Richt: “We were not able to come to a consensus on that.  The more that was discussed, the more everybody realized that’s not gonna happen.  Your crossover game sare gonna have to count.  It’s true in just about every sport in America; you may have your divisional games in the NFL, and you may have your games that are not.”  (Apparently Les Miles even pulled his support from Spurrier’s division champion plan.)

3.  Sidenote — Last week, Spurrier told ESPN’s Chris Low that he doesn’t care if folks like what he says or not “because it’s all just a bunch of talk.”  This writer has come to the conclusion that Spurrier just likes to stir the pot in Destin every year for the simple sake of doing so.  Paying 70 players out of his pocket wasn’t going to happen.  Not counting cross-division games wasn’t going to pass.  Doubling the stipend currently being discussed for just football and basketball players won’t pass muster, either.  I think the Ol’ Ball Coach just enjoys pulling folks’ chains.


And Finally…

Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News does a good job — as always — of conveying the frustration that seemed to permeate the mood in Destin yesterday.  He explains that the conference is currently bogged down in the “muck” of its own expansion.  

Mike Slive compared the situation to what happened in 1992 after the league’s last expansion.  ”What happens in the short is there’s difficulties.  But over time tradition builds, rivalries build and they develop.  I anticipate that over time we’ll be as cohesive as we were.”

But as we noted earlier today, the men leading the SEC in 1992 were more focused on protecting as many rivalries and traditions as possible while still growing.  This current batch of SEC trustees seem much more interested in grabbing greenbacks and sissifying their own schools’ schedules.

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Is NBA’er Frank Really A Candidate At Tennessee?

As Bruce Pearl twisted in the wind over the weekend, Jeff Goodman of tossed out longtime NBA coach Lawrence Frank as a surprising dark horse candidate to replace him.  While, yes, it does sound a bit like the “Jon Gruden’s coming!” rumors that swirl on college campuses each January, there seems to be a bit more fire to go along with the smoke in this Frank-to-Tennessee chatter.

Multiple league sources have confirmed that Boston Celtics lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank is among the early frontrunners to become the next head coach at the University of Tennessee.

That from Comcast Sports New England’s Celtics beatwriter A. Sherrod Blakely.  If Frank were a Clippers coach, we’d have no take on this.  But as this MrSEC writer is also a Celtics fan — who watches Blakely report on the team each night via satellite — I’m swayed a bit by the man doing the reporting.  He’s solid.

And Blakely goes on to state the following regarding Frank, who served for three years as a UT assistant in the ’90s under Kevin O’Neill:

His interest in the Tennessee job speaks not only about his desire to once again become a head coach — regardless of the level of play — but also about the likelihood of Doc Rivers returning next season as the Celtics’ head coach.

If Frank had any indication that Rivers was indeed planning to step down after this season as the Celtics head coach, he understands that he would be one of the first to get serious consideration for the job.

It’s also suggested that Frank — who was head coach of the New Jersey Nets just two seasons ago — would ask for a long-term contract from UT that would include “some type of out-clause that would allow him to return to the NBA.”

It certainly seems doubtful that a man who has spent 14 years in the NBA and has never been a head coach in college would choose — out of the blue — to dive into the world of recruiting and discipline and parents and boosters.  Especially at a place that’s about to spanked by the NCAA.  Possible, yes.  Likely, no.

And what if Blakely — who we respect — is reading the tea leaves wrong on this occasion?  Hey, as a Celtics supporter, I saw Rivers’ reaction when Kendrick Perkins was recently traded away.  He did not seem like a man who was happy with his decision to return to the C’s for one more title run with his team of long-in-tooth vets.  One of his favorite vets had been shipped out of town.

So what if Frank’s interest in Tennessee shows that he thinks Rivers is definitely gone rather than definitely staying?  Might he be using UT’s interest as leverage to land some sort of coach-in-waiting title from GM Danny Ainge?  You can be sure Boston doesn’t want a distraction — like a coach flirting or actually leaving — during a championship push.

That scenario seems just as likely as Frank actually landing back in Knoxville.

As for Tennessee, it’s good that the school appears to be targeting a “name,” outside-the-box hire.  Many fans are still upset over the Pearl firing and it’s doubtful they’d be standing at the box office clamoring for tickets if the Volunteers hired some mid-major coach with a very short resume to replace him.

We look forward to following this one over the next few days.  If nothing else, this unusual story beats covering the Arkansas-Missouri tug-of-war for Mike Anderson. 

A young pro coach with no college head coaching experience coming to Tennessee.  How could that not work?

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