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Freeze strongly favors eight league games

5/28/2013

DESTIN, Fla. -- One of the hot topics at this year's SEC spring meetings has to do with the number of conference games teams will play in the future.

Will the SEC go to nine league games or keep it at eight? The eight-game conference slate has certainly worked during the SEC's current seven-year BCS championship run, but with the league expanding to 14 teams last year, talk about increasing conference games has really picked up.

The creation of the new SEC Network, along with the new College Football Playoff, could also impact the number of conference games for the SEC.

One coach clearly not looking to increase the number of conference games is Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze.

"Without question, eight," Freeze said Tuesday.

Freeze was as stone-faced as possible when he delivered his answer and offered no hesitation in his voice.

He certainly isn't alone. Florida's Will Muschamp, Kentucky's Mark Stoops and Vanderbilt's James Franklin have all made it known that they prefer eight conference games. For schools that have yearly nonconference rivalry games, like Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina, nine SEC games doesn't make sense.

Eight SEC games makes perfect sense for the Rebels. This is a program that missed a bowl for two straight seasons before Freeze arrived last year (even then the Rebels needed to win their final regular-season game to become bowl eligible). Freeze understands that his team could still hover around the six-win eligibility mark this fall because of depth issues and the simple fact that Ole Miss plays in the SEC West.

He wants as many wins as he can get, and another conference game would affect that.

It also impacts the seven losers that will inevitably come from an extra conference game.

"For me, when you add a ninth game, that's seven more losses for our conference," Freeze said. "We want to fill all of our bowl slots, we want our kids to represent our conference. When you play that extra ninth game, I know it'll probably create some more revenue, but it also is seven more losses for us."

Dollars and cents mean a lot, but so do wins and losses. So, Freeze does make a very good point, but then you have to think about the playoff and how schedule strength will impact SEC teams. People continue to talk about how adding another SEC game will only make the teams at the top stronger when it comes to selection time.

This is certainly true, but that also means that the SEC champion would have to play 10 conference games before the playoff. It also means that the SEC could flirt with not filling all of those bowl slots when it comes to teams that aren't in the top half of the league.

The SEC champ will more than likely always have a spot at the playoff table, but the league would love to get a second team a plate. An extra conference game would help that, but you have to think of the league as a whole.

That's what Freeze is saying. He wants to make sure everyone in the league is covered.