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Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Miles wants divisional play to mean more

By Edward Aschoff

DESTIN, Fla. -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier made news earlier this spring when he let his feelings be known about how the SEC should pick its division champions.

To him, it's simple. All he wants is for divisional play to count for getting teams to Atlanta, while interdivisional games won't. East vs. East will count, but East vs. West won't.

If that were the case last year, Spurrier's Gamecocks, who were 5-0 against East foes and 1-2 against the West, would have made it to back-to-back SEC championship games, while Georgia, which went 4-1 against the East and 3-0 versus the West, would have been at home for the game.

Well, Spurrier's idea, which probably has little real hope of actually passing during this week's SEC spring meetings, is being backed by at least one other coach.

LSU's Les Miles said Tuesday that he's in favor of having divisional games weighed more heavily when it comes to seeding for the SEC championship game.

"I want it to be fair," Miles said during the first day of the 2012 SEC spring meetings. "I don't want to lock in an Eastern-Western Division opponent that historically has won the conference and that those games make a difference in how you fare in the East and in the West."

Basically, Miles said he doesn't want to see a team from the West play an Eastern Division team (or vice versa) that has historically succeeded every year and have it count toward the West race. He's not against having a tough crossover opponent. He just doesn't want it to count in the title race.

“You have to find the SEC champion the best way you can," he said. "You have to find the West and East division champions without regard to a crossover game.

“The best team in the West should play for the championship. The best team in the East should play for the championship. I think there’s a view of a loss in a crossover game that it could be detrimental and not allow the best team to come into the championship game.”

Miles tossed around the idea of maybe using national rankings or points scored as possible tiebreakers.
Spurrier added to his idea Tuesday by saying that schools could play interdivisional games early in the season and then play true division games later in order to crown "true division winners."

Unfortunately for Miles and Spurrier, there wasn't a lot of support tossed their way.

"It's hard for me to say that I could lose to an Eastern Division team and have that Eastern Division team lose to two Western Division teams and go play for the SEC title," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "That doesn't make any sense to me. An SEC game should count as an SEC game."
Added Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen: "I hate doing anything to devalue those league games because every game you play in this league is so critical and it's such a competitive game against tough teams that you'd hate to devalue that game."

Then there was Georgia coach Mark Richt, who benefited from not having Spurrier's rule in 2011. He said he's happy with the way things are and wondered aloud if Spurrier would be happy with his proposal every year.

"If it gets changed, then good for him I guess this year," Richt said. "I don’t know if he’d feel that way every year. This year he’d probably feel good about it. I don’t think it’s going to change. I’ve always said for me personally tell me what the rules are at the beginning of the year and let’s go play by them.

“I’m used to what we do. My mind’s ingrained that every game counts. The reality is in our league play if you lose to somebody head to head or if you beat somebody head to head you’ve basically got a two game lead on that team. So there is an advantage to that still. It’s not like there is no advantage or difference.”