SEC meetings notes: Scheduling questions still abound

semerson@ledger-enquirer.comMay 29, 2012 

DESTIN, Fla. -- The SEC seems to have all but decided on a schedule format for football. Announcing it by the end of this week's meetings, however, is a murkier proposition.

It has been assumed that this week the conference would rubber-stamp and announce a 12-year plan for an eight-game schedule and rotation. But it now appears the SEC could keep voting on a scheduling model, with specifics -- and who plays whom in which years -- to be announced later.

"Our goal -- it's our goal -- is to have a format determined while we're here, and then move on to schedules," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "You know, formats and schedules are two different things."

The format is expected to be a so-called "6-1-1" model: Six games against fellow division opponents, one against a permanent cross-division rival, and one against a rotating opponent.

So Georgia and Auburn will continue to play every year. But Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity doesn't think the Bulldogs' other Western Division opponent for 2013 will be revealed this week.

"I don't think we'll have any grid or chart of who you're playing, 2013 and beyond," McGarity said. "But hopefully there will be an approval of whatever the models are and information of that nature but not who you play when in 2013. That will be a ways away."

Sam for basketball

The SEC's revamped men's basketball schedule is in a similar state of flux. The coaches are studying one 18-game format, according to Slive, but more could be looked at this week.

"The issue we're having is nobody's ever had a 14-team league," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "So we really don't know the answer. So what's the best way to do it.

"Cal (Kentucky's John Calipari) talked about that. It's a real challenge. It's brand new territory."

Each team will have one game against the other conference teams. The debate now is among the other five, and whether there should be natural rivalries and how any rotation should work.

Fox favors his program keeping Florida and Auburn as twice-a-year opponents.

"I think that Georgia, obviously, has a great rivalry with Florida," he said. "It covers all sports. It's not just basketball; it's the school's rival. It's very natural. Football has a game every with Auburn that's played every year. I think we have natural rivals for schools. It's determined sport by sport. But will that fit in our model? Hopefully."

Spurrier's proposal

The lines are drawn on Steve Spurrier's proposal about deciding the division champions. The South Carolina coach wants only division games to determine the Eastern and Western champs. Spurrier said Tuesday that the growth of leagues makes that method a more fair solution.

"Now, maybe winning a division is kind of like winning a conference championship," Spurrier said.

But Georgia's Mark Richt, Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida's Will Muschamp and Slive are for keeping the current method.

"I think it's hard for me to think about a conference game that doesn't count," Slive said.

"You're going to minimize the importance of these cross-division games if you say they don't count toward the championship," Saban said. "Then we're really not an SEC. We're really just an East and a West, so why would we even play the games?"

More expansion talk

Expansion wasn't on the agenda at these meetings last year. Then, a few months later, Texas A&M and Missouri were added.

So, when Slive was asked about the subject on Tuesday, he was cautious.

"I was comfortable at 12," he said, only half-joking. "We were comfortable at 12. It's institutions like Texas A&M and Missouri came and said they were interested in our league … We weren't in an expansionist mode, and we aren't in an expansionist mode now."

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