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Slive: “I Live In Tomorrow” As Decision Over Scheduling Looms

the-future-signIn a speech at the University of Massachusetts’ Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management last night, Mike Slive described where his focus must be stay:


“Today doesn’t exist for me.  I live in tomorrow.  That’s my job.  Today is the job of 35 other people (on the SEC’s staff).  I am the trustee of a sacred public trust, and if you live in the South, you know exactly what I mean.”’s Ivan Maisel points out that Slive also stated last night that the SEC will decide at next month’s spring meetings whether or not the league will switch from an eight-game football schedule to a nine-game conference schedule (beginning in 2016).

Slive’s views on today/tomorrow are shared by any good executive, any good leader.  During the recent conference expansion craze, for example, Slive had to consider how additions to the league would look in 20 years or 50 years, not just in the now.  The same goes for everything else the man does.  What are the long-term ramifications of his league’s actions?

At, we’ve stated on many occasions that we believe the league should move to a nine-game  conference slate.  Such a move would protect the league’s oldest rivalries (Alabama/Tennessee, Auburn/Georgia, Mississippi/Vanderbilt).  And when it comes to protecting “a sacred public trust,” there is nothing more important than the traditions built over the past 81 years.

A nine-game schedule would also allow SEC schools to see teams from the opposite division more often.  Call us crazy, but if you’re in a conference you should probably see everyone else as often as you can.

But switching to a nine-game schedule would also aid the league moving into the future.

We suspect that the new College Football Playoff selection committee will do it’s best to pick teams from four different conferences when it comes selecting who’ll compete for the national crown.  Strength of schedule will be a important factor in that process.  The Big Ten has announced nine-game schedules beginning in 2016.  The Pac-12 is going with nine-games as is the Big 12.  ACC commissioner John Swofford said in February that there is “considerable support” for a move to nine games in his league as well.  If the SEC doesn’t move to nine, it will be the only major conference playing eight league games… which means SEC teams will likely play one more cupcake than teams in other conferences will.  If the selection panel is looking for reasons to keep a second SEC team out of its playoff, you can bet the cupcake issue would loom large.

Nick Saban is just about the only SEC football coach to date to publicly push for a nine-game schedule.  Most other coaches want to avoid anything that might make getting to six wins and a bowl game more difficult.  But if Slive’s job is to think about the future, he needs to convince a few more coaches, ADs and presidents that a move to nine games is most likely the wisest step.

Unfortunately, we don’t believe that will happen.

That means come 2016 and 2017, the SEC will be at a disadvantage in the new playoff landscape that was created immediately after the BCS featured an SEC versus SEC title game.  The playoff now exists to prevent such SEC dominance.  A decision to become the only eight-game league in the Big Five conferences would only aid those who are looking to “spread the wealth” among all the leagues.

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Alabama’s Blowout Win Over Tennessee Won’t Help “Permanent Rival” Cause

06-rivalry-pic_display_imageAlabama/Tennessee and Auburn/Georgia.  Two of the oldest, most-storied rivalries in the South and in the nation.

And if some SEC figures have their way — LSU AD Joe Alleva and football coach Les Miles — those rivalries will soon be nothing but history.

With the SEC expanding to 14 teams, there’s now a feeling among some that the scheduling rotation is not fair.  Now, we have written many times that there is no such thing as a “fair” schedule unless all 14 teams play one another both at home and away.  It’s unlikely a 26-game schedule is coming down the pike, so regardless of what new system is put in place, the rotation will always leave some moaning and some groaning about unfair shakes.

Those wanting to do away with permanent cross-division rivalries have focused in on the Alabama/Tennessee rivalry, mainly because the Volunteers have fallen on hard times of late.  Bama now owns a seven-game win streak over their old enemy.  Saturday’s 45-10 beatdown only serves as further proof — for some — that the league’s longtime premier rivalry should be nixed (as though college football needs more dead rivalries at this point).

“Tennessee stinks and Alabama should have to play Florida or Georgia more often!”

Question: Who in the SEC East would’ve beaten Alabama last Saturday?  A wounded Georgia team?  A Florida team that’s both beat-up and offensively deficient?  Perhaps Missouri or Carolina could have given Bama a better game, but at this point, there aren’t many schools in America who can stand toe-to-toe with a program barreling toward its third BCS title in a row and its fourth in five years.

Tennessee became just the second team to score a touchdown against Alabama since September 14th.  Rotating the schedule is supposed to change that kind of dominance?  Please.

The fact is, Tennessee/Alabama is an annual tilt between the two winningest teams in SEC history.  For those with short memories, the current seven-game Tide winning streak was preceded by a seven-game Vol winning streak from 1995 to 2001.  In between, Tennessee took another three out of five.

The “Third Saturday in October” rivalry has long been a series of streaks.  One team is often up while the other is down.  Alabama has had winning streaks of seven (2007-2013), seven (1986-1992), and 11 (1971-1981) in the last 45 years.  Tennessee has had winning streaks of seven (1995-2001), four (1982-1985) and four (1967-1970) over that span.

Still, you can be certain that Alabama’s blowout of Tennessee on Saturday will be brought up this offseason at the SEC meetings.  Once again, LSU will lead the charge to dump permanent cross-divisional rivalries so they can rid themselves of their annual Florida date, a game that has been played every year since 1971 and a game that’s become a favorite of the league’s broadcast partners.

But instead of tossing a century of SEC tradition (Alabama/Tennessee, Auburn/Georgia) because of one school’s fears and a seven-year win streak, the league would be better off doing what we’ve been suggesting it do since October 21st of 2011 — adopt a nine-game schedule with a 6-1-2 rotation.

With attendance dwindling for non-conference games, a new playoff selection panel focusing on strength of schedule, and a new television network to fill with good programming, we believe a move to a nine-game slate is likely.  The 6-1-2 rotation (six division foes, one permanent cross-division foe, two rotation cross-division opponents) would guarantee that schools in opposite divisions would face one another more often and it would protect old rivalries (Alabama/Tennessee, Auburn/Georgia, Ole Miss/Vanderbilt) as well as keep TV faves (LSU/Florida) alive.

There’s a good answer out there for those who want to make today’s Alabama team face tougher challenges from the East Division.  And it’s better than dumping a classic rivalry that — if history serves — will eventually see Tennessee rise and Alabama fall.  And so on.

Here’s hoping the SEC’s power brokers take a long-term view rather than a short-sighted one.  But we won’t be holding our breath.  The league’s current stewards haven’t proven to be as wise on scheduling issues as their predecessors.

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SEC Commish Opens Up About Scheduling On Eve Of Spring Meetings

mike-slive-smileTony Barnhart of has produced the perfect kickstart to this week’s SEC spring meetings in Destin.  The longtime writer and radio host recently sat down with SEC commissioner Mike Slive for a lengthy Q&A about the league and its future.  Everything from the SEC Network to player stipends to the new College Football Playoff is covered right here.

With possible changes to the SEC’s scheduling format sure to be a hot topic this week, Barnhart asked Slive about that particular hubbub:


“Remember last year we overwhelmingly voted to keep the current 6-1-1 scheduling model and we are currently building the 2014 schedule on that basis.  The question is whether or not we keep that model for a longer term.  As I have always said, the First Amendment is alive and well, and will be on display for the next few days.  We understand there are different points of view on this.

Should we stay with the 6-1-1 model?  Should we eliminate the permanent crossovers?  Should we go to nine games?  There is going to be a lot of discussion during the week on this and a lot of media interest…

If I had an opinion (on permanent cross-division opponents), I wouldn’t tell you.  But I am open-minded on this issue.  The test for me is what is the principle in play?  There are scheduling principles in play, but for me, the overriding principle is: What is in the long-term best interest of the Southeastern Conference?  That is a simple principle but it can be very difficult in application.  It takes some forecasting.  It takes some thinking.

We’ve always been very creative in this league.  We have always been deliberate and careful.  All those characteristics have to go into this discussion about the schedule.  Where it comes out, I don’t know, but everything is important — every element.”


First, it didn’t take the commissioner long to work in his favorite “First Amendment” quote.  Betcha it won’t be the last time you hear that one this week.

As for the takeaway from the above quote, it’s clear that as a sly businessman and strategic thinker, Slive has always been and will always be focused on “What is in the long-term best interest of the Southeastern Conference?”  From signing two landmark deals with CBS and ESPN in 2008 to pushing through an unpopular (with coaches) soft cap on football signees to launching an SEC Network, Slive keeps his eyes on the big picture.

Turning our attention to the current dust-up over permanent cross-division opponents, the vast majority of schools seem to be in favor of keeping them as a part of the league’s scheduling format.  Those games help to keep three old rivalries alive (Alabama/Tennessee, Auburn/Georgia, Ole Miss/Vanderbilt).  They also aid overall conference parity by matching the SEC’s traditional “winners” against one another (and the traditional “losers” against one another, as well).

Are permanent rivals good for everyone?  LSU says “nay.”  But are they good for the Southeastern Conference as a whole?  The majority of schools to date have thought “yay.”

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The SEC Will Release The 2013 Football Schedule This Afternoon

The SEC has announced that it will finally unveil its 2013 football schedule this afternoon at 3pm ET.  That’s just the 2013 schedule, mind you.  The league is still tackling the rotation issue for future years.

Yesterday a league official told The Birmingham News that due to the difficulties of setting up a 14-team, eight-game schedule, the rotation part of things is taking longer and leading to a number of issues.  If the SEC decides to stick with such a plan then fans can expect — according to associate commissioner Mark Womack — the following:


* Some “permanent” cross-divisional rivalries may change.  (In 2012, the permanent foes were: Alabama-Tennessee, Arkansas-South Carolina, Auburn-Georgia, Florida-LSU, Kentucky-Mississippi State, Missouri-Texas A&M, and Ole Miss-Vanderbilt.  South Carolina is expected to become permanent partners with Texas A&M while Arkansas and Missouri will likely be paired together.  We’ll have to see if other tweaks are made.)

* Once again, a few SEC teams might have to make return trips to the same foe in consecutive years.  (This season, Missouri is playing at Texas A&M for the third year in a row while Mississippi State returned to Kentucky for a second consecutive season.)

* The rotation of cross-divisional foes won’t be even.  In order for teams to see each other more often, the league is planning to stop rotating those opponents in two-year home-and-away cycles (as it’s done previously).  And in order for everyone to have an even number of home games inside the conference each year, the intervals on those rotation changes won’t all be equal.  In other words, Alabama might face Vanderbilt in Nashville in 2013 and in Tuscaloosa in 2019.  Meanwhile, Arkansas might face Tennessee in Knoxville in 2013 and in Fayetteville in 2018 or 2017.

* The SEC will likely also have to drop — as it did this year — several “parameters” it had put in place to prevent schools from playing three straight SEC road games, for example.  The league will also want to set up the schedule so that each team will face three divisional foes at home and three on the road, but will it be able to do so?


What’s ridiculous about all this is the fact that a nine-game schedule — as we’ve been preaching from Day One — would wipe out just about every issue noted above.  The only complication with a nine-game slate would be the fact that seven teams would play five home games one year while the other seven would play just four home games in that year.  But that would flip-flop on an annual basis and it’s really no more of an issue than the “luck of the draw” set-up the SEC has used for years with its cross-divisional rotation.  Depending on the year, one West Division team might draw Florida while another draws Vanderbilt.

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SEC Rep Talks Schedules, Divisions In Missouri

Former Mississippi State AD and current SEC transition team member Larry Templeton was in Columbia, Missouri yesterday to see the #5 Tigers knock off future SEC running mate Texas A&M on the hardwood.  The folks at — the Rivals site covering Missouri — and The Kansas City Star caught up with Templeton and spoke with him about a number of SEC-related topics:

1.  Templeton said the SEC will continue to go with an eight-game football schedule, but that the future schedule format for 2013 and beyond will not be tied to the 2012 schedule.  “Everything you see in ’12 was done strictly to make it work.  Everything else is on the table for discussion.”

Of a nine-game schedule, Templeton said: “We’re not going to nine.  It would be an easier scheduling format, but I don’t think it would be fair to our players or our coaches.”

This has been known for a while.  SEC coaches and ADs do not want to go to a nine-game conference slate and it will be up to the league commissioner and school presidents to convince them otherwise.  Based on the SEC’s previous “bravery” when it came to adding league games and adding a championship contest, we continue to state that the SEC will eventually wind up with a nine-game schedule.  If not, then the SEC will harm itself (especially with all other leagues heading toward a nine-game schedule universe).

2.  Templeton said that one topic up for consideration is whether or not to continue having permanent cross-divisional rivalries.

If these games go away, the SEC will lose three of its oldest rivalries: Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, and Ole Miss-Vanderbilt.  Missouri would also lose Texas A&M and the recruiting grounds of the Lone Star State.

The Big 12 nuked its Oklahoma-Nebraska matchup when it absorbed four schools from the old SWC in the mid-90s.  The bad karma from that move has haunted the league to this day.

There is little chance that Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt would play each other as “non-conference” games in addition to their usual league slates, so you can stop emailing me that one.  That leaves realignment of the divisions as the only other option, but…

3.  Templeton said he did not foresee the divisional alignment changing “real quickly.”  He said: “I think we would have to have some sound reasoning as to why we would want to change that.”

4.  Templeton told the Missouri press that the SEC basketball schedule will be 16 games “next year and 18 thereafter” according to  He also said that Kansas City — clear across the state of Missouri — will be in play for landing an SEC Tournament at some point.

5.  Templeton said that he does not expect the SEC Championship Game to ever move from Atlanta.

6.  The SEC rep would not discuss the possibility of the league expanding further.

So what did we learn?  Not much that wasn’t already known.  Except for this: Templeton said, “Until the NCAA changes the championship game rules, it would be hard to anything but divisional play.  Now, we would like the NCAA to look at that because we feel pretty strongly — we have some crossover games division to division — (and) we would like to play more of them.”

That might be one way to open up scheduling and to save key rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia.  Presumably, the SEC could go without divisions and simply send its top two teams to Atlanta for the SEC title game.

But that’s pure speculation at this point.

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SEC Headlines – 11/10/11 Part Two

1.  Alabama’s defense is once again prepping for a two-quarterback system.

2.  If Mississippi State can upset Bama on Saturday, it would be the Crimson Tide’s first loss to an unranked foe since a 2007 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

3.  The bowl possibilities for Auburn (and everyone else in the SEC) are wide open at the moment.

4.  The team that’s finished with the most rushing yards has won the last eight Auburn-Georgia games.

5.  Arkansas’ defense is feeling confident after allowing just 207 yards of offense to South Carolina on Saturday.

6.  Current Razorback — and former Tennessee — assistant coach Steve Caldwell isn’t talking to the press as he prepares to face his old employer for the first time.

7.  Les Miles says he hasn’t given a lot of thought to which of his two quarterbacks will play first on Saturday.

8.  Freshman punter Brad Wing has had a big impact for LSU.

9.  Alabama native and Mississippi State linebacker Brandon Wilson says he was “never a ‘Roll Tide, University of Alabama’ kind of guy.”

10.  Dan Mullen says the Tide “deserve all the hype they’ve gotten this  year.”

11.  Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee is impressed by Louisiana Tech’s defense.

12.  Houston Nutt’s biggest problem was getting his signees to campus and then keeping them there.

13.  This writer says Rebel fans don’t appear to want any part of this year’s Egg Bowl with MSU.

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SEC Closing In On 13-Game Schedule… But 14th Team Could Join Any Day

The SEC has just about figured out its scheduling model for a 13-team league in 2012.  If/when Missouri joins the SEC this week, all that work could go right out the window.

Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph recently caught up with Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity and was told that the schedule plan should be revealed “sooner than later.”

In terms of key cross-divisional rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia, McGarity said he expects those games to be undisturbed.  Other cross-divisional games could disappear for a year, however.

“There are various challenges that will be clarified here shortly.  But we all realize that we’re just focusing on one year. … That’s really our mission right now, and we’re in the process of trading information back and forth…

There are several models that we have seen that keep your East opponents intact, and then keeping your Western common opponent intact.  And beyond that there are a number of different options.  But I think that we’ve seen the traditional rivals stay in place.”

McGarity said there’s been no talk of a 14-team schedule… which is what will be needed when Missouri comes aboard as expected.

Larry Templeton — the ex-MSU athletic director who is part of the SEC’s transition team — suggested last week that Texas A&M could be given an eight-game league schedule that actually consists of four games against the East and four games against the West (rather than the five divisional games and three cross-divisional games their West cohorts will play).

If that is part of the plan, and if the Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee rivalries are to be protected, it’s possible the other league teams might lose their cross-divisional permanent opponent for a year only.  That would allow the rest of the league’s cross-divisional rotation to roll on as expected.

Arkansas and South Carolina, Kentucky-Mississippi State, and Florida-LSU have no longstanding history pre-1992 expansion (though that UF-LSU game is a doozy).  Ole Miss-Vanderbilt is one of the league’s oldest rivalries, but could it be put on hiatus for one season?

Using such a plan would also allow A&M to host four teams and travel to four teams with all eight of those opponents keeping the same number of home and road games as they were originally scheduled to have.

Next year, Arkansas is scheduled to travel to South Carolina.  Kentucky is slated to travel to Mississippi State.  LSU will visit Florida.  And Vandy will go to Ole Miss.

So it’s possible the 2012 A&M schedule could feature Arkansas in College Station (or back in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium), Kentucky, LSU and Vanderbilt at home.  With road trips scheduled to South Carolina, Mississippi State, Florida and Ole Miss.

Just a thought.

A thought that will be completely moot if Mizzou can escape the Big 12 by next season.

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Fans Urged to Use Caution Against Counterfeit Tickets

For the upcoming Auburn-Georgia football game on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Auburn Athletic Ticket Office is reminding fans to use caution regarding the possibility of counterfeit tickets. The only authorized outlets for Auburn-Georgia tickets are the Auburn and Georgia Athletic Ticket offices.

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SEC Headlines – 11/8/10 Part Two

1.  Urban Meyer wants all of the Gator fans to wear blue to Saturday’s game with South Carolina.  (Maybe he should’ve leak word through Pete Thamel of The New York Times.)

2.  “Tight end” Jordan Reed enjoys being part of Florida’s quarterback rotation.

3.  Florida’s got high expectations in basketball, but Billy Donovan says, “This group hasn’t always handled expectations well.”

4.  Steve Spurrier says this weekend’s USC-UF showdown isn’t about him.  (Good luck selling that one, Coach.)

5.  Carolina will head into the week with a number of injuries.

6.  Spurrier says of the game: “Florida seems to be peaking at this time, and maybe we’re headed the other way.”

7.  Georgia — facing Auburn this weekend — would like to beat at least one ranked foe in 2010.

8.  Cam Newton and AJ Green will provide plenty of starpower.

9.  Gene Chizik says the Auburn-Georgia rivalry is “what college football is all about.”

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