Wednesday, May 30, 2012
SEC hopes to have schedule format Friday
By Edward Aschoff
DESTIN, Fla. -- When SEC commissioner Mike Slive and the rest of the SEC elites leave the 2012 SEC spring meetings later this week, the hope is that there will be a concrete scheduling format for the 2013 football season and possibly beyond.
The addition of Missouri and Texas A&M means teams will have to play six divisional games instead of five, making things a little complicated.
Right now, it looks as though the most likely format, which could be set as early as Friday, will be a 6-1-1 model. That gives teams six divisional games, one permanent crossover game and rotating crossover. The rotating crossover no longer would be a traditional two-year home-and-home series. It simply would be a one-year rotation. It’s the same model that will be used for the 2012 season.
LSU coach Les Miles said he’d like the structure of future SEC schedules to be “definable,” and wouldn’t mind if the league re-examined how it chose permanent crossovers.
"Legitimately tell me about how you're picking crossover games,” Miles said at the spring meetings Tuesday. “Is it the best team in the East, the best team in the West, top three and top three? OK, if you guys want to do that, let's do that. It might change the matches, but if you want to say, 'Well, we really are going to seed the best teams versus the lesser teams,' well, OK, let's do that, but define the structure and let's stay with it.
“In my mind, here’s what happened: They added two teams this go-round, and very conceivably they could add another two. So let’s build a structure that’s desirable and helps build toward a champion.”
Slive said talks would become more detailed as the week continued, and while he wouldn’t go into detail about formats or permanent opponents, he did say he sensed that most of the schools wanted to keep their permanent crossover games.
Those games likely would be Alabama-Tennessee, Arkansas-Missouri, Auburn-Georgia, Florida-LSU, Kentucky-Mississippi State, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt and Texas A&M-South Carolina. However, there has been talk of the Florida-LSU series possibly not being renewed.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he expects Arkansas to become Mizzou’s permanent crossover, which should help create a rivalry between the two schools.
"That's what I'm told is probably going to happen," Pinkel said. "To me, just tell me who our rival is, and then they'll be our rival. Obviously, we're adjacent to [Arkansas]. Obviously, we've been associated with [Texas A&M] for years. That's above me. Nobody has asked me for my opinion."
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze said they’d prefer to keep their schools' current permanent Eastern Division opponents -- Kentucky and Vanderbilt, respectively.
“Having that, it gives you a little bit of a rivalry,” Mullen said about playing Kentucky each year. “I do think in the last three years being there … you see that rivalry spill over. I know in basketball it is that way for everybody, but because we play them every year in football, because there’s that familiarity it spills into basketball, it spills into baseball.
“That works for us, and geographically it works for us as far as East teams go.”
Added Freeze: “I’d like to continue with Vandy. That’s been a healthy rivalry game. In recent pasts it’s been very equal, and it’s a good game for fans to watch. We’ve got a lot of people in Nashville, and we recruit that area, and it’s just good for us and good for them.”
CBSSports.com reported Tuesday that the SEC will create a model for the next 12 years, but Slive told reporters Tuesday that wasn’t necessarily the case.
"That's a long time," Slive said. "I'm not sure that's what we'll do."
What seems sure is that the league won’t go to a nine-game conference schedule. It essentially forces the conference champion to play 10 SEC games, and adding just one more to the regular season has drawn little interest from coaches.
“None at all,” Freeze said. “Not from me.”