The SEC spring meetings have begun in Destin, Fla., bringing together the leagues coaches and administrators and giving fans one last look at the state of the league before the football kickoff in July.
With the future conference schedules set, the hot topics of conversation this year included the scheduling FCS and other non-conference opponents, pace of play and whether the SEC's BCS dominance can carry over into the College Football Playoff era.
We've included a collection of quotes and notes below and will continue to update the post throughout the day. (Click here to refresh)
• Mike Slive has the best taste in belts. Behold:
• Saban is asked about recruiting gay players. The ongoing story of Michael Sam, the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and his life as an openly gay football player has made this a talking point for college football. According to the AP, Nick Saban would not shy away from recruiting or signing a player because of his sexuality.
Nick Saban, when asked whether he would sign or recruit a gay player, says he would because he's been on teams with "folks like that."— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) May 27, 2014
• Mike Slive thinks only the SEC can top the SEC's streak of seven straight national titles. The SEC commish did an extensive Q&A with Tony Barnhart that featured his takes on unionization, the selection committee and the SEC's eight-game league schedule. He also compared the seven-year streak of BCS championships to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.
Auburn played such a great game but the only problem was that the game was about one minute too long (laughs). I just remember not wanting a tough loss in any way to diminish what our conference had accomplished in the BCS era. We won nine of the 16 championships. We almost closed it out with eight straight. I put what we accomplished in the context of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. I don't think anybody is ever going to win seven straight national championships again—unless it's us.
• Coaches weigh in on strength of schedule, Part I. Last season, Florida lost to an FCS opponent for the first time in school history. Will Muschamp was one of the many coaches discussing whether SEC schools should schedule FCS teams. Read More: CBSSports.com's Jon Solomon reports from Destin, Fla. on the SEC's stance regarding FCS opponents.
Mark Richt supports playing FCS teams to help them with their budgets. http://t.co/z4yLmEX6Bo— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) May 27, 2014
• Coaches weigh in on strength of schedule, Part II.
Saban talked at length about difficulty scheduling OOC games, so I asked about Mich St, which wanted to play Bama but games cancelled...— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) May 27, 2014
Saban said he'll play them but when/where complicated - Mich St doesn't want to play neutral site, he says— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) May 27, 2014
Nick Saban wants Power 5 conferences to play only games against other P5 schools. “Better for fans & for players"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) May 27, 2014
• Bret Bielema responds to critics of the SEC's eight-game league schedule. Colleague Jeremy Fowler will be sitting down with the Arkansas head coach for a one-on-one on Tuesday, but Bielema gave us a sound bite that could preview his thoughts on this particular issue.
Bielama on other leagues complaints on SEC eight-game sked: "I'd like some of those cats to come in our league and play an 8-game schedule."— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) May 27, 2014
• Changes to the recruiting calendar. There is some momentum behind the idea of introducing an early signing period to recruiting, but Georgia coach Mark Richt has introduced some real world sensibility to the discussion by proposing a dead period in the summer.
Richt would like month dead period in summer to "get to know your wife and kids a little bit."— David Jones (@DaveJonesUFbeat) May 27, 2014
Les Miles told reporters that coaches were unanimous behind the early signing proposal, which would create a prior signing day the Monday after Thanksgiving. Will the SEC support it as a league? Slive said it has opposed it before, but said the conference hasn't come to an official position yet on the current proposal.
In other words, stay tuned.