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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
3-point stance: Alabama's shrewd hire

By Ivan Maisel

1. There are several levels of shrewdness in Alabama’s hiring of Bill Battle to replace Mal Moore as athletic director. Battle knows football. He knows business, having virtually invented the collegiate licensing business. He loves Alabama and the timing is ideal. Battle, 71, is a year younger than university chancellor Dr. Robert Witt. Battle is signed through 2017 and along with Witt will keep the ship afloat for a few more years. The next generation of university leaders can come in together. Most important, Nick Saban is signed through 2020.

2. Not so long ago, college football coaches got five years to succeed. Now they get three. And yet the pressure on them is nothing compare to what basketball coaches face. The firings of Ben Howland at UCLA and Tubby Smith at Minnesota indicate that winning is not enough. Making the tournament is also not enough. Neither is making the Final Four in three consecutive seasons (the Bruins did so between 2006-08). I’m betting that the new college football postseason, beginning in 2014-15, will increase the demands on this sport’s coaches. Woe be onto the coach of a top program who can’t get into football’s Final Four.

3. No one can question the SEC's primacy in football. But everyone should question the league’s nonconference scheduling. Only Georgia, Florida and South Carolina play as many as two non-league games against AQ conference teams in 2013. There is no excuse, either. The SEC is stubbornly staying with an eight-game league schedule as the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten are playing or transitioning to nine-team league schedules. It’s not hard. But it takes willpower. And the teams will benefit. What’s not to like?