Wednesday, June 2, 2010
SEC coaches pushing away from expansion
By Chris Low
DESTIN, Fla. -- For the time being, SEC commissioner Mike Slive will let everybody else speculate about expansion and what many are predicting will be a significant shift in the landscape of college athletics.
Slive’s stance is the same as it has been, and he’s not coming off that stance.
The SEC will sit, wait and watch and allow the Big Ten to make the first move -- or moves.
“Obviously, we will talk about it, and I'll share some thoughts,” Slive said concerning any expansion discussion this week at the SEC spring meetings. “But, basically, what we're going to say is what we've said. Given our success over the last decade, we’re pretty comfortable, as I think you all know.
“Having said that, if there's a significant shift in the conference paradigm, we will be thoughtful. We'll be strategic, and our goal is for us to maintain our position as one of the most successful conferences in the country. People have been drawing inferences from that. They'll continue to draw inferences from that, but really that’s about all we're going to say about it this week.”
Many of the SEC’s football coaches have asked as many questions about possible expansion scenarios the past couple of days as they’ve answered.
Nobody seems overly eager to bring in more teams to a conference that has already won the past four BCS national championships in football.
“This is just one man’s opinion, but I kind of like the way things are,” Florida’s Urban Meyer said. “The SEC has elevated itself to one of the top conferences, if not the top conference, in the last five years. I know nothing about expansion. I’m kind of curious what you guys are hearing about it.
“I can’t imagine making it a little stronger, a little tougher to win a few games. I don’t see it happening.”
Alabama’s Nick Saban suggested that the Big Ten’s longstanding pursuit of Notre Dame is what’s driving most of the expansion chatter.
“I don’t really know a lot about what’s going on out there,” Saban said. “Even when I was back in the Big Ten [at Michigan State], and I really think that’s the key to all this stuff, it was always about Notre Dame then. Each year, there was a big discussion about trying to get Notre Dame to join the Big Ten, and I think that’s a lot of what it’s about now.”
Several SEC officials have made it clear this week that they have no desire to start invading conferences just for the sake of adding teams.
The 1992 SEC expansion included a South Carolina team that was an independent and an Arkansas team that was part of a decaying Southwest Conference.
Now, if the Big 12 starts to crumble as a result of the Big Ten expanding, then clearly Texas and/or Texas A&M would be attractive to the SEC, especially when you consider the television market in Texas and the population numbers in that state.
The coaches say they will leave those decisions up to Slive and are confident he will make the right call.
And if it’s status quo that Slive decides on, it doesn’t sound like any of the football coaches in this league would be pouting.
Whatever happens, Georgia’s Mark Richt said he wouldn’t be in favor of adding additional conference games.
Eight is enough.
“I’d be shocked if we started looking around and saying, ‘Hey, what team do you think would be fun to add?’” Richt said. “I don’t think we’ll do that.”