A few days ago, it seemed like the SEC's spring meetings discussion on the league's future schedule would be little more than a formality. LSU might not have liked it, but there seemed to be little chance of anything other than the "6-1-1" format -- six division games, one permanent cross-division game, and one rotating cross-division game -- ever being seriously considered.
That may still be the case; there's no reason (yet) to doubt that the SEC will still unveil a 6-1-1 schedule and its full 12-year rotation Friday, as reported by CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy. But Mike Slive said Wednesday that he had "asked our people" if allowing schools with traditional cross-division rivalries -- namely Auburn and Georgia, and Alabama and Tennessee -- to keep them while other schools rotated opponents was "one of the possible formats."
“We have looked at that," he said. "There's some real complexities with that. That's a nice solution if it was available, but like everything else, every time we do something it raises another set of issues and you've got to balance those against the issues raised by another format.”
The Birmingham News reported that both a 6-2 format and even the long-thought-dead nine-game SEC schedule had received discussion as well.
Both of those formats remain extremely unlikely to gain much traction this week, the latter for the same longstanding reasons that have (unfortunately) stood in its way since the day Missouri and Texas A&M were added to the league, the former for the unwillingness of the league's voting majority to force the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry and Third Saturday in October off the schedule at gunpoint.
But there's one school that's apparently perfectly fine with the gunpoint approach: LSU, which is so determined to rid themselves of their 41-year-old rivalry with Florida that athletic director Joe Alleva suggested that Alabama and Tennessee agree to play each other as nonconference opponents instead.
“It's not because I'm opposed to playing Florida,” Alleva said. “I just think it creates a competitive inequity in the whole league. In my opinion, people are voting for their own self-interests, not what's best for the whole league.”
(Yes, how dare teams like Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee listen to their fans and vote in favor of their own century-old rivalries. More on the hypocrisy of Alleva's "self-interest" chirping here.)
Les Miles offered a similar opinion.
To this point, Miles would appear to be wrong. The 6-1-1 format still seems to be the most popular among coaches who have commented, Dan Mullen firing off a blistering response to Miles's shot across the Bulldogs' bow.
“I've been in this league for a while and I have a national championship ring from when my crossover games at the University of Florida were Auburn, Alabama and LSU,” Mullen said. “Is that fair? But we still won a national title. I don't see how there's any relevance to that. It all balances out.”
In other words, Mullen is telling Miles the same thing his own fans are: get some chest, Les.
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