DESTIN, Fla. -- Its lonely at the top for Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
Saban, who has led the Crimson Tide to three national titles in four seasons, is the only coach favoring a nine-game conference schedule at this weeks SEC meetings, it was revealed by a handful of coaches Wednesday.
Both Les Miles and Steve Spurrier confirmed the vote was currently 13-1 in favor of sticking with eight conference games, although the issue remains far from settled.
The question, Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said, is how a nine-game conference slate would affect strength of schedule when brought up for review for the College Football Playoff.
I think, right now, itll be a wait-and-see approach because nobody really knows how that will be decided right now, McGarity said. There was a presentation (Tuesday) that talked about what that strength-of-schedule model will look like, and they just dont know right now. Its too early in the process to really know what the metrics will be.
Until that is established and publicized and in place, they wont know about (the schedule format) for football.
In other words, if shown evidence that a nine-game schedule would help the conferences chances at putting multiple teams into the four-team postseason playoff, some coaches could change their tune.
For now, the majority of coaches dont see that as the case.
Until somebody proves to us that nine games is an advantage in some position, I think it also stands to reason that an eight-game schedule for us, in our own conference, puts us in a position to win a national championship, Miles said. I dont know that it ever goes to nine games unless some other conference puts some pressure on us and shows that they have an advantage because they have scheduled nine conference games.
The hope is that as the College Football Playoff selection process becomes clearer, so will the answer to the question on everyones mind at this weeks meetings.
Still, each head coach and athletics director has their own set of needs that dont necessarily line up with the rest of the group. Even among the 13 who agree theyd like to stick at eight games, some, like Miles, argue for doing away with the cross-division rivalry games in search of a fairer path to the conference championship.
Commissioner Mike Slive was asked at the conclusion of Wednesdays meetings about how to balance the needs of each team.
Welcome to my chair, Slive said jokingly. At some point well make the decision. I sort of said to the coaches using a metaphor that theres a rope, that the schedule is on a rope. We work our way down the rope and were just about down to the bottom and theres a big knot because theres something in that particular schedule thats just tough. At some point in time, were going to have to unravel one of those knots and just make a decision.
Dont expect that decision to come anytime soon. Closer to completion is the 2014 schedule, although that, too, isnt likely to be released this week, Slive said.
Possible, but doubtful, Slive said about the chances of the schedule coming out at the meetings. There are a couple of things weve got to take care of.
Slive said that, rather than scheduling non-conference games and scheduling the conference games around that, the SEC will now focus on the conference schedule first.
Thats going to change, and thats why these few years are sort of steps towards the point where were going to do the conference schedule and then fill in with the non-conference schedule. So we still have a few things weve got to move around, Slive said. Actually, were a little closer (Wednesday) than I thought we were going to be this week.