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Bama’s Saban: Little Support For A 9-Game SEC Schedule

gfx-they-said-it4Nick Saban has been the only vocal proponent among SEC coaches when it comes to switching to an nine-game league schedule.  According to the coach, that’s because there’s not much support whatsoever for adopting a nine-game slate… vocal or otherwise:

 

“I don’t think there’s any support for that, it doesn’t seem like.  I think there’s a little bit more support for staying with an eight-games schedule and everybody playing a ninth opponent that’s in the five major conferences.

My thing is I’m for playing nine conference games and still playing another team in the major conferences, so you play 10 games because of fan interest, people coming to games looking forward to seeing more good games.

So that’s the starting point for me.  I think it’s important for the players to be able to play more teams in the SEC East, on the other side, which we only get to play one now.  I don’t know if we stay with the 6-1-1 or 6-0-2.  I don’t know.”

 

Saban might be the only smart coach in the conference when it comes to scheduling.  In terms of strength of schedule for the new playoff, it appears now that the SEC would be the only league not playing nine conference games and a 10th game against a power league.  That means each SEC team would play three cupcakes instead of two and that will give the playoff selection committee reason enough to exclude a second SEC team from the playoff in coming years.

Also, with schools battling attendance issues, one would think adding a league game would make for a better box office draw.  If you’re an Auburn fan, for example, would you rather see your team play Oregon or Charleston Southern.  Exactly.

The league’s coaches met yesterday.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive said last week that a decision on future schedules could come in the next couple of weeks.  One small group — likely led by Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia — is probably going to vote in favor of a nine-game slate or an eight-game slate that protects crossover rivalries like Alabama/Tennessee and Auburn/Georgia.  Another small group — led by LSU and South Carolina — is expected to push for an eight-game schedule with no permanent rivals.  The SEC presidents will ultimately make the decision.  Best bet?  The compromise would seem to be the status quo — eight games with permanent rivals.

If/when the SEC gets bumped from the College Football Playoff over a strength of schedule issue, you can bet this topic will be revisited.

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Slive’s Return For Another Year Is Good News For The SEC

Mike-SliveFile this one under: “Not a surprise.”

SEC commissioner Mike Slive revealed to The Birmingham News yesterday that he will stay on in his current position at least through the 2014-15 academic year.  With his contract set to run out this summer, some wondered if he might walk away.  Slive himself said last spring that he would take a few months to decide his future.

We, however, have said numerous times that there was no way in the world Slive would leave his post before the SEC Network actually launched.  To think he would step aside and watch someone else launch his crowning achievement was far-fetched at best.

The 73-year-old said:

 

“I’ve got too much going on.  I’ve got the (SEC) Network to work on.  I’ve got football schedule to solve.  We’ve got the NCAA restructuring.  We’ve got a lot of important issues to take care of.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world…

I’ll be here as long as you see me.  I’ll be working until I’m not working.”

 

Good.

While many fans take aim on authority — “The NCAA is out to get us.”  ”The SEC office is out to get us.  ”Slive is out to get us.” — the SEC’s current commissioner has done a spectacular job for the league.  He’s helped the SEC lead the way in television revenue via landmark contracts with CBS and ESPN inked back in 2008.  Now, seeing that league-specific networks are the future, he’s cut a deal with ESPN that will see the SEC Network reach more homes at start-up than any other conference channel in history.

Slive oversaw the league’s first expansion in 20+ years which has further increased the league’s wealth.   The SEC won seven consecutive BCS titles on his watch and nine of 15 (almost 10 of 16).  He led the way in terms of the soon-to-launch College Football Playoff.  He pushed hardest for full-cost-of-tuition scholarships and those will soon become a reality.  Hell, the league’s reputation as an outlaw conference has even been cleaned up a bit.

A bit.

About the only thing Slive has erred on — in our opinion — was botching the SEC basketball schedule and allowing countless longtime rivalries to wither away unnecessarily.  But if that’s the biggest misstep in 12 years of leading the league, well, that makes for a pretty good track record.

Slive’s return is good news for the league.

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Auburn’s Malzahn Motivated To Get The Tigers Back To The Title Game

gfx-they-said-it4This season there won’t be any worrying about BCS computer scores or pollsters’ votes.  The two teams reaching football’s national championship game will have played their way into the ultimate game by way of a new four-team playoff whose field will be set by a panel of — and this is still up for debate — gridiron experts.

For Auburn, the journey to the first College Football Playoff has already kicked off down on the Plains.  Gus Malzahn has admitted that he’s had a hard time getting over his squad’s last-minute loss to Florida State in this year’s title showdown.  His boss — Auburn AD Jay Jacobs — sees his coach’s frustration… as well as his determination to be one-minute better in the upcoming season:

 

“He’s having a hard time putting it behind him.  It’s hard to say he’s more resilient now, because of how he was, but he’s got the throttle pressed all the way to the floor, trying to push it through the floor.  He can’t get back there quick enough.”

 

Malzahn won numerous Coach of the Year honors in guiding Auburn to a 12-2 record just one year removed from Gene Chizik’s 3-9 mark.  This year the Tigers will go from being the hunter to the hunted.  And as we point out so often, there’s not been a repeat SEC champion since 1997-98.  To work his way back into the playoff and then the title game this fall, Malzahn had better have the pedal to the metal.

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Arkansas AD Long To Head Up Playoff Selection Committee

jeff-longThe leaders of the new College Football Playoff will announce the first selection panel tomorrow.  But the SEC has already made one announcement today.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long will serve as the first chairman of said selection committee when it convenes next fall.  According to Bill Hancock — the executive director of the College Football Playoff — Long has: “vast experience in college football.  People in intercollegiate athletics hold him in high regard.  He is know for his insight, intelligence, wisdom, wit, judgement and calm demeanor.  He’ll make a great chairman.”

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Ex-Bama, A&M Coach Stallings “Concerned” With Selection Committee; Spurrier Doesn’t Care

gfx - they said itEarlier this week, ex-Auburn coach Pat Dye questioned Condoleezza Rice’s selection to the new College Football Playoff selection committee.  Yesterday, former Alabama and Texas A&M coach Gene Stallings made it clear that he’s not ready to rubber stamp the committee, either.

Appearing on Tim Brando’s national radio show, the former national championship-winner had this to say:

 

“I’m getting a little concerned about getting some people that are not qualified as I would like to see to make the decisions on this committee.  And I’m worried about that…

Football’s a great game.  Now, we’re going to pick four or six or whatever it is.  We’re picking some committee members to make that decision and I worry about whether some of them are qualified to make this kind of decision…

Unless you coached a little, it’s sort of hard to analyze a team.”

 

Perhaps that last line will prevent folks from labeling Stallings a troglodyte.  His issue isn’t with a woman being on the panel — neither is mine – but instead with non-coaches filling out the panel.  While I would say ADs are OK and perhaps university presidents, too, I would have zero issue with the panel featuring ex-coaches only.  Yes, there would be questions of bias, but you’re going to have that anyway.  Whether its the aforementioned Rice with Stanford and Pac-12 teams, Arkansas AD Jeff Long with his Razorbacks and the SEC teams or former Air Force superintendent Michael Gould with… well, non-AQ teams.

One coach who usually has plenty to say has chosen to keep quiet on the subject of the committee.  South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier was asked his feelings about Rice — why just Rice? — and the usually lippy coach had only this to say:

 

“Why not?  She’s a Stanford graduate (and she) plays a little golf.”

 

Fair enough, though that opens the committee room doors to a helluva lot of Cardinal alums.

Sadly — but not surprisingly — any “backlash” against Rice’s selection is being dismissed as “sexist, stupid.”  And if folks don’t want Rice on the panel because she’s a woman, then yeah, it is sexist and it is stupid.

But for someone to say “We need football coaches only,” or — as I did yesterday — “There are more qualified women,” or “There are issues with several people on the panel,” the media and a nation full of Twitterites shouldn’t present those arguments as being anti-woman.

That would take way too much thought and it’s much easier to simply bang out a “How dare you, cretins!” type of column.  So be it.

There is one amusing twist to this whole rhubarb.  With so many writers having rushed to protect and defend the selection committee, a lot of folks have pre-nixed the ultra-easy “What were these idiots thinking?” columns that they would otherwise be sure to write next year when the panel actually tabs the first four teams for the new playoff.  And you all know very well that the first four picked will be controversial.

Better not question the panel’s selections, Defenders of the Committee.  Not after you so vociferously defended the selection of the panel itself.

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Report: Arkansas A.D. Jeff Long Expected On Football Playoff Committee

Jeff LongWhen the College Football Playoff starts in 2014, the selection committee will have 12-18 members.  One of them is expected to be Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long.

The Associated Press says Long along with fellow athletic directors Pat Haden of USC and Dan Radakovich of Clemson are expected to be named to the panel that’s also expected to include former players, coaches and administrators.  The AP says Long did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

CBS.com has reported that West Virginia AD Oliver Luck and Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez are expected to a part of the committee.

The panel is expected to be completed by the end of the season.

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No Surprises In SEC Bowl Lineup. Boring!

BowlsThe Southeastern Conference has announced its bowl tie-ins for 2014 through 2019.  And the league has partnered with all of the bowls whose names had been kicked around since spring.

If you were holding out hope for a surprise matchup against with the Pac-12 or a new bowl outside the SEC’s footprint, you’re plain outta luck.

Here’s how the SEC’s new bowl selection process will work:

 

*  The College Football Playoff selection committee will get the first opportunity to grab one (or more) SEC squads for its four-team playoff.

*  The next best team in the SEC will be slotted into the Allstate Sugar Bowl (in years when that game is not a playoff semifinal).

*  As part of a rotation, the next best SEC team will occasionally be chosen to take part in the Discover Orange Bowl.

*  The Capital One Bowl will then choose an SEC squad for its game.  That’s quite a fall for a game that for much of the ’90s g0t the SEC’s second-best team.

*  After those bowls, a pool of six more games will exist.  According to the league office: “In consultation with SEC member institutions, as well as these six bowls, the conference will make the assignments for the bowl games in this newly created pool system.”  Mike Slive is quoted in the league’s PR release: “This bowl process gives us the best opportunity to address several issues that impact SEC fans, including the creation of intriguing matchups, the accommodation of travel for fans, reduced ticket obligations for our schools and a variety of assignments to help prevent repetitive postseason destinations.”

*  The six bowls in the pool will be the Outback Bowl, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, as well as new partners the Texas Bowl (Houston) and the Belk Bowl (Charlotte).

*  If there are still more bowl-eligible SEC teams, the Birmingham Bowl (currently looking for a new title sponsor) will get the first selection.

*  The Advocare V100 Bowl will then get the last selection, again, if there are enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of those slots.

 

While we believe that SEC fans might like an occasional travel opportunity outside the league’s footprint, the Slive makes it clear that he and the league’s presidents feel differently.  “We are pleased to have established a lineup of premier bowl games that will give our student-athletes a wonderful postseason experience and our fans the opportunity to travel to venues in the geographical footprint of the conference.”

 

Homer Simpson: Quit boring everyone!

 

Sorry, but a trip to either San Diego, Las Vegas or New York City would make a nice December trip for one SEC fanbase each season.  Instead, two cities not exactly known as vacation hotspots — Houston and Charlotte — have been added to the league’s menu of games.  We’ll grant ya that hose are nice, big cities with nice, big stadiums and nice, big payouts for the league and its members.  But unless someone’s got family there, no one is saying, “Honey, how ’bout we Christmas in Houston this year!?!”

Below is a listing of the conferences that will be providing opponents for each of the SEC’s future bowl partners: Read the rest of this entry »

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Knight Commission Believes New Football Subdivision Should Be Studied

faultlineThe idea of a new subdivision of the richest schools in the country deserves more study, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.  The commission does not, however, support such a subdivision just yet… it only calls for more study.

According to the ever-excellent Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News, the commissioner sent a memo to NCAA president Mark Emmert today calling for changes in how the NCAA governs.

Among the points covered in the think tank’s memo:

 

*   The makeup of the NCAA executive committee needs to be broadened.

*  The new College Football Playoff should reimburse the NCAA for services — such as eligibility checks, creation of rules, rules enforcement, etc — which enable college football to operate as a collegiate sport.

*  Revenue distribution should be revised to ensure academic incentives are appropriately embedded in the system.

 

The Knight Commission conducted interviews with about 50 “high education and college sports leaders” in an attempt to determine which NCAA-related issues are most important to the body’s members.

The NCAA Division I board will meet Thursday to begin considering different ways to govern the 348 schools — about 125 of which play football — in their membership.

As we’ve written for two years now, a new subdivision of the richest schools is the next step in college sports evolution.  There are too many issues involved for schools to break away totally from the NCAA.  Likewise, there are too many issues involved — money being the biggest — for all 348 Division I schools to be governed in the same fashion.  The easiest compromise, then, is a new subdivision at the top of the D-I stratum.

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SEC Headlines 7/28/2013

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Will Missouri quarterback James Franklin run less this season? ”I actually don’t really like running the ball. I’ve just always done it because I trusted my legs more than my arm.”

2. Put Mizzou in the uptempo offense camp.  Offensive coordinator Josh Henson: “Ideally, you’re looking for numbers in the 80s in this offense. At least 75 and above.”

3. South Carolina’s offensive line allowed 38 sacks last season.  Gamecocks lost only one starter in the unit – and expect to be a lot better this year.

4. Season-ticket sales lagging at Tennesssee, officials don’t expect to sell as many as last year.

5. Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling hopes his crew benefits from military-style training over the summer.

6. Does Florida have the best secondary in the SEC?  Kentucky with the worst?

7. Cornerback Senquez Golson turned down the Boston Red Sox to play football at Ole Miss.  Was that  a good decision?

8. Kentucky football players entertain “more than 500 howling ladies.” 

9. Is defensive end Dee Ford the most important returning piece for Auburn? The Auburn defense had just two interceptions last year - tied for worst in the country.

10. Critical focus at Alabama this offseason?  The offensive line.

SEC/College News

11. NCAA athletes linked to Biogenesis scandal. “But do not expect this to reverberate too much through college athletics.”

12. Mike Slive and the BCS.  The SEC Commissioner  ”lead the charge to change the system to the College Football Playoff. It’s just another sign of his vision.”

13. Tennessee coach Butch Jones, along with A.D. Dave Hart and basketball coach Cuonzo Martin make up more than 20% of all the salaries in the Vols athletic department.

14. Of the 64 schools in the power five conferences, only 13 of them will play two games against a power conference opponent (non-conference games).

15. Concussion lawsuit against the NCAA “not getting as much publicity as the O’Bannon one, but it may be every bit as damaging to the collegiate model which is predicated on big-time football.”

SEC Basketball

16. Missouri coach Frank Haith on freshman point guard Wes Clark: He’s fast, he’s got great burst, he’s got great vision, he’s a pure point guard,”

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ACC’s Swofford Responds To Spurrier’s Notre Dame Ramble

logo-notre-dameLast week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier opened his media session with a meandering “state of the union” address that touched on everything from scheduling to coaches paying players out of their own pockets to the fact that Notre Dame should be forced to join a conference.  In fact, Spurrier said the league’s coaches voted unanimously in Destin that the Fighting Irish should join a league.  (As if the SEC’s coaches have any say on what deals a Midwestern university can cut for itself.)

Well, ACC commissioner John Swofford has responded to Spurrier.  Notre Dame, of course, will join that league a member in every sport but football.  The Irish will, however, play five ACC teams per year on the gridiron.  Swofford’s take on Notre Dame:

 

“It’s the right thing to do at this point in time.  It was a unanimous decision by our institutions and a very positive one that has already benefited us without question…

I’m really pleased and I know the vast majority of people in our league are pleased that ND is part of the ACC family under the conditions they are currently under.”

 

Hey, if there weren’t something special about Notre Dame, the Irish wouldn’t be able to cut special deals for themselves.  Other folks might not like it and it might not be “fair,” but as long as television networks, the College Football Playoff power brokers, and conferences like the ACC see great value in the Notre Dame brand, Notre Dame will continue to wield unique power.

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