HOOVER, Ala. -- Reliant Stadium could be an early-season home for the SEC for years to come.
After speaking with two conference officials about kickoff games, there's a strong sentiment for Houston hosting SEC teams beyond games currently scheduled -- Mississippi State/Oklahoma State in 2013, LSU/Wisconsin in 2014.
The SEC is picking up the ESPN-sponsored Meineke Car Care Bowl for its 2014-19 bowl lineup and also values the fertile recruiting area of Houston.
Kickoffs pair schools from different conferences -- usually high-profile schools -- for a neutral-site game for a big payout. Two-time defending champion Alabama opens the season in Atlanta against Virginia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A kickoff game. These games are trendy because the networks like them and the money's good enough for schools giving up a home game. If the league stays in an eight-game schedule, then kickoff games are a way to play on the road and still retain television rights for the recently crafted SEC Network on ESPN.
SEC executive associate commissioner Mark Womack stresses that schools can decide whether they want to play in the games, but that regularly playing future games in Houston is an option.