SEC Meetings begin: Think expansion will come up?

 Five Burning questions as we begin the annual SEC Spring Meetings this morning in Destin:

 1. Do you think expansion will come up? It’s not on the agenda but it will be the 800-pound gorilla in the room. This will be Commissioner Mike Slive’s first opportunity to meet with his athletics directors, presidents, and coaches face to face and bring them up to date on what the conference is thinking. I met with the Commissioner last night and he said he would have no specifics coming out of these meetings. “What I will say is that if the paradigm in college athletics shifts (i.e., massive Big Ten expansion), we will be prepared to maintain our place in college athletics,” he said. So you can expect the press corps to ask it a bunch of different ways but the answer will not change this week.

Still, there is no question that the SEC has been doing its homework and will have a plan in place should the Big Ten expand to 16 teams later on this year. There was a report that the SEC has had conversations with CBS about specific teams it would invite, a report that the conference denied and my CBS sources denied. Hey, it’s a nervous time. Nothing will be done on expansion here, but it will sure come up.

2. Will the football coaches finally approve an early signing period? This is one of the things the football coaches bring up every year, get excited about, and finally can’t agree upon. College basketball has an early signing period in November for guys who know where they want to go to school and want to get the recruiting process over. There has been talk for years about creating one in December for football that mirrors the junior college signing window. This week it might get done. “So many schools are having guys graduate from high school early and come in January there is really no reason not to do it,” an SEC head coach told me last night. “It just makes too much sense.” The biggest plus to an early signing period is that schools don’t have to keep spending money in January just to “babysit” players who already want to sign. A ton of money is spent just making sure guys who have committed don’t change their minds or have their minds “changed” for them by aggressive recruiting down the stretch.

 

3. Is Mississippi State’s cowbell going to be banned? The SEC has long had a policy on artificial noisemakers at events but Mississippi State’s cowbell is such a tradition that the league not has cracked down hard on it. That might change this week. Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger wrote a great piece about the cowbell and its history.

http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20100530/SPORTS030102/5300344/Bulldogs-braced-for-battle-over-cowbells

How would you like to be Scott Stricklin? Stricklin, 40, was just named the athletics director at Mississippi State. He’s a Mississippi State grad.  And now he has to walk into a room with his fellow athletics directors and fight for his school’s beloved cowbell.

 

4. Will basketball eliminate divisional play? Nope but there may be a change in the way the SEC Tournament is seeded.  Last season the top four teams in the SEC East went 24-0 against the six teams in the SEC West. But when the conference basketball tournament began in Nashville, Tennessee and Florida had to play on the first day while Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who had lesser records but finished 1-2 in the West, got byes in the first round. That ain’t right. The SEC could solve this problem by following the Big 12 and ACC model and eliminating divisional play for basketball. But a head basketball coach told me yesterday they are going to consider seeding the conference tournament by picking the teams with the best four records regardless of division and awarding them byes in the first round. I personally believe that divisional play, which works well for football, does not translate for basketball because there are so many games, should be eliminated. I don’t think anybody is hanging an “SEC East Basketball Champions” banner in the rafters. It’s just a different sport.

 

5. Will Alabama get any relief in its football schedule?  By now it is a well-known fact that Alabama’s last six SEC opponents in 2010 all have open dates before they play the Crimson Tide. The SEC has not released its official schedule yet because it has been trying to give Alabama some help. But in order for that to happen other schools in the league have to be willing to change THEIR schedules. Maybe one game gets moved but certainly not more than that. The SEC can’t go very far into June without its football schedule being set.

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201 comments Add your comment

Kid Ray

June 1st, 2010
8:51 am

Kid Ray

June 1st, 2010
8:52 am

Worm

June 1st, 2010
8:56 am

Early signing period would be the best thing accomplished at these meetings.

BP

June 1st, 2010
9:06 am

I sure hope the oil dosen’t ruin your stay in beautiful Destin, FL. By the way I wouldn’t have seafood if I were you.

MaJo

June 1st, 2010
9:07 am

800-pound elephant? I think you’re mixing your metaphors, Tony. This is not rocket surgery.

New Gator Fan

June 1st, 2010
9:08 am

Can the SEC bring in better competition for the Gators to play? I don’t want the strength of schedule in the SEC to start hurting the Gators in the eyes of the BCS computers.

Nick Saban

June 1st, 2010
9:09 am

Hey Slive……Give my team some relief on our schedule or I will destroy you with my laser beam eyes.

Jax Dawg

June 1st, 2010
9:10 am

Worm

June 1st, 2010
8:56 am
Early signing period would be the best thing accomplished at these meetings.

What if you were a Tennessee recruit that signed early before Lame Kitten took his “dream” job?

Mikey

June 1st, 2010
9:10 am

The meetings will not have the same atmosphere now that Lane Kiffin isnt there…
that was cool last year having him face the Ol Ball Coach and Urb.

Mikey

June 1st, 2010
9:12 am

New Gator Fan – you make me laugh out loud.

Gator Mike

June 1st, 2010
9:25 am

Mikey, I agree with you on the absurd statement by New Gator Fan. Obviously he does not know the history of the SEC and UF’s mediocrity before 1990 and our bonehead moves in scheduling teams such as Charleston Southern which was a total joke.

Go Gators!

LOL

June 1st, 2010
9:27 am

Hey New Gator Fan, if you’re worried about strength of schedule, try leaving the state of Florida for once to play an OOC game….against an actual Div 1A opponent! LOL!

New Gator Fan

June 1st, 2010
9:31 am

Mikey and Gator Mike and every other Michael who is a Gator fan, I have been a die hard Gator fan since 2005. I’m sorry If I don’t remember something that happened 100 years ago. Go Gators!

The rest of us

June 1st, 2010
9:32 am

The Gators played football before 1990?

Emmitt Smith

June 1st, 2010
9:33 am

Matt from Suwanee

June 1st, 2010
9:33 am

New Gator Fan — Did your team win the SEC last year?

New Gator Fan

June 1st, 2010
9:35 am

They won the SEC East last year. Is that what you mean?

Don

June 1st, 2010
9:36 am

Do sec teams really hang banners for winning their division? That is pathetic if they do and I guess UF has 90% of them the past 20 years.

Kid Ray

June 1st, 2010
9:38 am

they play bball in the SEC??

RxDawg

June 1st, 2010
9:41 am

“800-pound elephant in the room”

Hehe, not to be picky, but I think it’s an 800-pound gorilla. An elephant can weigh ~ 15,000 pounds :)

Norman

June 1st, 2010
9:43 am

Give Alabama a break? Hey, would Saban give Miles, Richt, Myer, Dooley and others a break? Don’t give Alabama a break!!!!

Babar

June 1st, 2010
9:45 am

I’m an 800 pound elephant. Can you see me in the room?

kgator79

June 1st, 2010
9:48 am

Gator Mike…

How exactly was scheduling Charleston Southern a “bonehead move”?

RxDawg

June 1st, 2010
9:55 am

1. Expansion will be bad for all, that is all.

2. They really should. There is no reason not to (to my knowledge). For the record, why can’t any football recruit sign a letter of intent on any day they want to?

3. Look, there is really no argument here. The cowbells are artificial noise makers. They should of been banned the year the SEC put in the noise maker rule. End of discussion. And trust me MSU fans, the cowbells do not do much for your school’s image.

4. “That ain’t right.” I couldn’t of said it any better. That should be fixed.

5. Oh cry me a river. It’s the end of the world and I predict Bama fans are going to ride that excuse to the ends of time when their season doesn’t go the way they want it to this year. Just look to the future to make sure it’s a little bit more evened out amongst the teams. Mountains out of mole hills.

Tony's Spell Check

June 1st, 2010
9:56 am

Does ‘gorilla’ have one R or two? It’s gonna be fun when I can actually be used by someone who writes and presumably spells for a living. Oh wait…

idi

June 1st, 2010
9:58 am

1. Absolutely. Some plan is better than no plan.

2. Yes to the early signing period. As the anonymous HC shared, it just makes too much sense not to do it.

3. Don’t ban the cowbells, sheesh, every way we turn today somebody is trying to kill off traditions.

4. The suggested seeding of the top four regardless of division would appear to be a reasonable one.

5. A rare occurrence for sure but one the SEC needs to remedy for the future. Sorry Bama, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. In a down year for the Conference, stop your whining.

Tony Barnhart

June 1st, 2010
9:58 am

I have a long tradition of mixing metaphors. But yes, it should not be an 800-pound elephant. So noted and changed.

TB

Whyuhatebama

June 1st, 2010
9:58 am

Man, y’all all know its unfair to have a schedule like Bama has this year. It just ain’t right and if we lose because of it, I aint excepting those losses as real. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Poker in the front

June 1st, 2010
10:01 am

Whyyouhatebama – You are an outstanding example of everything I have ever believed about Alabama. Please don’t change sir. My world view could not take it!

Random Observation

June 1st, 2010
10:02 am

Just a thought on the Kyle Veazey article…

‘clarionledger.com – Mississippi’s #1 web site”

Isn’t that like being the valedictorian of summer school?

Or better yet, the best at finishing in the top ten at then end of the year, but only a couple conference trophies to show for it?

Liquor in the rear

June 1st, 2010
10:03 am

Tony, aren’t you glad that airline pilots don’t have a “long tradition” of failing to check the fuel guage before they take off?

Me

June 1st, 2010
10:04 am

Tony, say hi to Urban Meyer for all the Dawg fans. Wasn’t he supposed to be at Notre Dame or retired or something?? And what’s Nick Saban doind still hanging around? Oh well……

Musashi

June 1st, 2010
10:05 am

State AD Strickilin is out in left field comparing cowbells to the hedges, gator chomp & other “traditions”. There is no worse SEC experience than having a State fan seated behind you ringing a cowbell in your ears all game. Enforce the rules and get rid of them.

Whyuhatebama

June 1st, 2010
10:07 am

Y’all’s are all just jealous of our 17 national championships. I would hate to route for a team that had no tredition.

TommyJack

June 1st, 2010
10:07 am

“Will Alabama get any relief from their schedule?” Scheduling GA ST. is the most chicken-shizz move I’ve ever seen in D-1 ball. Downright shameful.

Poker in the front

June 1st, 2010
10:08 am

Musashi, there is a worse experience than the cowbells…that is the moment when he asks you to help him shave his wife’s moustache.

Reptiles Rule

June 1st, 2010
10:10 am

Football definitely needs an early signing period. There are almost as many “de-commitments” as “commitments” nowadays and now some of these kids won’t even go as far as even calling them commitments so they won’t have that stigma when they de-commit. Christian LeMay is a great example. He’s no doubt heard the “hot seat” rumors and doesn’t want to have to go back on his word if Mike Bobo or Richt is jettisoned.

Poker in the front

June 1st, 2010
10:10 am

Whyuhatebama…please for goodness sakes do not stop posting on this board.

Whyuhatebama

June 1st, 2010
10:13 am

Are you making fun of me? You are probably a barn or one of them Ole Miss people. Y#all aint so good. We will whup you even with a weeks rest.

Charlie Bama

June 1st, 2010
10:14 am

TB– Nice buffett of college football food for thought. Expansion is still looming in the corner or around the coffee pot at these SEC meetings, but I STILL think it all comes down to ND joining the Big Tin, and all the remaining speculation is will prove to be just that. Sure, Slive and the authorities at the SEC have a contingency plan for expansion too, but they will not trot it out and flop it on the table unless absolutely necessary (i.e. Big Tin does something BIG beyond the real goal–ND Irih into the Tin fold.) Meanwhile, CFB life goes on, with the Orange Hillbillies in trouble for the next five years, Auburn on the rise (but no room at the top), Dawgs a big question mark (could go either way or vanish in the middle), The Spurriers looking at the Old Ball Coach’s last hoorah, LSU full of hope (until the first two games or a class quiz), and Florida and Bama dominate, as it shoud be.

Gator Nation

June 1st, 2010
10:18 am

We are doing everything we can to increase our strength of schedule but we can’t figure out how to replace Georgia on the slate.

Kiffinisatosser

June 1st, 2010
10:18 am

It’s nice to see that Bama paranoia is fully functional even in the morning. Thanks for giving us that opportunity Tony!

Kiffinisatosser

June 1st, 2010
10:20 am

Until the Gator Nation removes the Charleston Southens and Troys they have exactly zero standing to offer an opinion on scheduling. Beyond lame.

Au-burn baby burn

June 1st, 2010
10:22 am

Don’t be so hard on these toothless North Alabamians. We ceased taking their rantings seriously long ago!

Question Needs an Answer

June 1st, 2010
10:25 am

After decades of regular-season match-ups,
why did Florida take Miami off the regular schedule?

Gator Nation

June 1st, 2010
10:26 am

Who is the first team on your schedule this year? And who is that tenth team as well??? Pot, meet keetle…

The rest of us

June 1st, 2010
10:28 am

Reptiles Rule

June 1st, 2010
10:10 am
Football definitely needs an early signing period. There are almost as many “de-commitments” as “commitments” nowadays and now some of these kids won’t even go as far as even calling them commitments so they won’t have that stigma when they de-commit. Christian LeMay is a great example. He’s no doubt heard the “hot seat” rumors and doesn’t want to have to go back on his word if Mike Bobo or Richt is jettisoned.

I think players should not have to sit out a year when they want to transfer after being told they’ll start by coaches who recruit them.

Kiffinisatosser

June 1st, 2010
10:30 am

Who has UF played OOC outside the state of Florida during the regular season in the last 10 years? The answer is NOBODY.

New Gator Fan

June 1st, 2010
10:30 am

Gator Nation

June 1st, 2010
10:18 am
We are doing everything we can to increase our strength of schedule but we can’t figure out how to replace Georgia on the slate.

You tell em! Georgia is terrible. Go Gators!

Charlie Bama

June 1st, 2010
10:30 am

Don’t the Orange Hillbillies play Bristol Boy Scout Troop 81 in 2011? NEVER bet against the Boy Scouts, they’re scrappy!