Spurrier proposal to only count division games a hot topic at SEC meetings

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

No one, not even Steve Spurrier himself, expects the Ol' Ball Coach's proposal that only division games count in the SEC's division standings to pass. (It's hard to find anyone who expects it to come close to passing.) But that didn't keep it from being a hot topic at the league's spring meetings Tuesday.

And not without reason: Mike Slive admitted to CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart Tuesday that even if he found it "hard to talk about conference games that don't count," the proposal would be discussed among the league's athletic directors this week.

Spurrier reiterated Tuesday why he would like to see the East division decided by East games, and West games by West games--and did it by referring his long-bygone days coaching Duke.

“I was thinking about the most fair conference I was ever in, the ACC, '87, '88, '89,” Spurrier said. “I think we only had eight teams and everybody played each other, so it was very simple ... Now with the mega conferences, everybody can't play everybody and sometimes scheduling might be the reason somebody wins the division or even the conference championship.”

As he has done before, Les Miles again offered his support for Spurrier's idea.

“The best team in the West should play for the championship,” Miles said. “The best team in the East should play for the championship. I think there's a view of a loss in a crossover game that it could be detrimental and not allow the best team to come into the championship game.”

James Franklin has also voiced his support for the proposal and did so again Tuesday. But aside from those three coaches, the proposal didn't seem to pick up any new adherents at the spring meetings, with Nick Saban coming out strongly against it.

"I just think there's no perfect way (to put together a schedule)," he said. "But I do think you're going to minimize the importance of cross-divisional games if they don't count toward the championship. Then we're really not an SEC. Then we're an East and a West, so why would we even play the games?"

Will Muschamp echoed those statements.

“I would have a hard time losing to an Eastern Division team that loses two Western Conference games and they're going to go play in the SEC championship,” he said. “An SEC game is an SEC game to me … I totally understand (Spurrier's) frustration. (But) I think an SEC game needs to count as an SEC game.”

But it was Mark Richt who had maybe the best line of the day on his South Carolina rival's position:

As we've written in this space before, Spurrier and Miles aren't wrong when they say the imbalance in cross-divisional scheduling isn't fair. But what's not fair in 2011 or 2012 for LSU or South Carolina might wind up unfair to Arkansas or Georgia come 2014 or 2015 ... and overhauling 20 years of agreement on cross-divisional play (not to mention reducing the SEC, as Saban said, to two separate conferences with a scheduling arrangement) isn't worth it over one or two unfortunate schedules.

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