UGA's Adams thinks move to nine-game football schedule 'may win out'

semerson@macon.comMay 3, 2013 

ATHENS - You can add another person to the growing list who think the SEC may go to nine games: Outgoing UGA president Michael Adams.

Adams, who has been one of the most active SEC presidents when it comes to athletics, said Friday he senses there is a "a lot of motion in the direction of nine games right now." Georgia is one of those for whom the current eight-game structure is most convenient, but Adams appears to sense a riding tide on the other side.

The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 are among those that have gone to nine games. The SEC has remained a holdout, but SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Thursday it will be discussed, and hinted it could happen even over the objection of the coaches.

"I think it could happen," Adams said. "I know more and more conferences are going to that. The fans don't like the games against some of the competition that we play, and I don't blame them. It's one of the reasons I voted against going from the 11th to the 12th game, because I thought it was going to do to us exactly what it has done. Another SEC game vs. some of the other teams that we've been playing, long-term (playing another SEC game) may win out."

Adams, whose tenure ends in June 30, will still be a voting member at SEC meetings later this month in Destin. He said he hasn't decided how he personally feels between staying at eight or going to nine.

"But I think ultimately what will win out is fans are properly tired of seeing two or three really poor games per year," he said. "I do get concerned about the impact of more SEC games on the student-athlete. And one of the reasons I think we've been successful thus far in holding to an eight-game schedule is that. But I think a lot of the motion is in the direction of nine games right now."

But if you go to nine SEC games, and Georgia keeps its annual rivalry with Georgia Tech - which it will - then that likely means sacrificing other marquee non-conference games. Georgia vs. Clemson, which kicks off the 2013 season, wouldn't happen in the future.

That's because most SEC schools, including Georgia, would rather have two guarantee non-conference games per year, for financial and competitive reasons.

"My own personal opinion is the games like the Clemson game will go away," Adams said. "And frankly that's okay. If the trade-off is another SEC game or the Clemson game, I think that's an okay trade-off. But if you go to nine games, and you play Tech, I don't think those 11 or 12th games are likely against Clemson or Ohio State, for that matter."

SEC Network reaction

Adams was unable to attend Thursday's formal announcement of the SEC Network because of a funeral in Kansas City. He offered his reaction on Friday.

"I've been pushing this for a long time," Adams said. "It took some time with circumstances. I think clearly the conference has gained even additional ground with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, and I just think it makes a lot more economic sense now than it did then.

"I think in that five-year period of time we've become a lot more of a national conference. I mean it wasn't just in the Southeast that people wrote that the Georgia-Alabama game was the national championship game. You saw that all over the country. So I think there's a national audience now, rather than a regional audience."

Adams also said the Big Ten deserved credit for paving the way. That conference, which has often been at odds with the SEC on and off the field, did well with its network, created five years ago. Adams pointed not just to televised sporting events, but other shows that have helped sell the conference. One endeavor for the SEC Network that's been discussed, according to Adams, is an increase in academic promotion.

"To be fair about it, I think a lot of us have seen the success of the Big Ten Network, and we're equally strong and maybe more desired right now," Adams said.

While the ramifications for football get the most attention, the SEC Network will feature more than 1,000 live events, around 450 of them on television, the rest digitally. That means more exposure for the non-revenue sports.

"I think the sport that may ultimately benefit the most from all this is baseball," Adams said. "I think baseball is under-seen right now given the quality of play that's out there in the conference. And to have young people see volleyball and women's soccer and some of the other things they will see in greater measure. I would hope we would see the annual SEC track meet, which I have been to several times, and is one of my loves. So it will get more play. It should strengthen programs across the board."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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