Posted on: January 5, 2012 1:50 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 4:16 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It was just before Christmas when SEC commissioner Mike Slive said -- regarding next year's BCS discussions and a potential new look for the system in 2014 -- he would "go to the table with the plus-one very much in mind."
When talking to Tony Barnhart on the CBS Sports Network Wednesday, however, Slive sounded even more firmly in support of a potential college football "Final Four"--and even more convinced that's exactly what's going to happen with the BCS.
"I do think we are going to see changes," Slive said, "and I don't think those changes are going to be tweaks."
When asked if the SEC's run of five (and soon to be six) national titles had changed his previous support of the plus-one -- Slive spearheaded the 2008 push to have it approved -- Slive essentially confirmed that it had not.
"For the past six years, two has been enough," Slive joked. "But I do think the plus-one has to come back to the table. I'm confident we will have a robust conversation."
Slive's full-on support for the plus-one could be the clinching factor in its passage for 2014; with the Big 12 throwing its support behind the proposal in the wake of Oklahoma State's BCS title game snub and Pac-12 athletic directors calling the plus-one "inevitable," Jim Delany and the Big Ten appear to be the only serious opposition.
For the rest of Slive's interview with Barnhart, watch the video above. And for Mike Gundy's comments on the plus-one, watch his video interview with Tim Brando here.
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Posted on: December 28, 2011 4:03 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
At long last, the SEC finally unveiled its 2012 football schedule Wednesday--its first with Texas A&M and Missouri as its 13th and 14th members, and the matter of intense speculation and rumor ever since the Aggies and Tigers joined this past fall. Though the schedule isn't yet an indicator of how things will look in 2013 and beyond (Mike Slive pointedly said recently the 2012 edition is a one-year stopgap before a permanent divisional rotation is established the following season), that doesn't mean there's not plenty to parse and analyze where 2012 is concerned. Here's a team-by-team look at what each SEC program is happy about regarding the schedule, and what they're not so glad about:
Likes that: its East divisional draw doesn't feature either South Carolina or Georgia. A road trip to Missouri could be tricky, but given the way the Gamecocks whomped the Tide the last time the two teams met and how the Bulldogs have finished this season, Alabama's not going to complain about getting a first historic visit to Columbia under their belts. And of course, their permanent cross-divisional rivalry with Tennessee isn't anything to fear at this stage. Getting Auburn at home is always a plus.
Doesn't like that: what shapes up as the two biggest SEC games on its schedule, LSU and Arkansas, both come on the road. If the Tide are going to earn the critical head-to-head tiebreaker over either of their West rivals, they're going to have to do it the hard way.
Likes that: both Alabama and LSU have to visit Fayetteville, where the Hogs have been particularly feisty against the Tigers. And taking on the Tide early (Sept. 15, the first SEC game of the season for both) could work to Arkansas's advantage as Nick Saban retools his much, much younger defense. Any West team that gets "home vs. Kentucky" as one of their East games has to be pleased with their good fortune there, too.
Doesn't like that: its annual game with South Carolina is on the road, we guess. But the way the Hogs have routed the Gamecocks the past few seasons, they probably don't care too much where they play them, and that still might be their only complaint; the West is still the West, but this was as kind a schedule as it was possible to draw up for the Hogs.
Likes that: three of its four road games are visits to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The fourth is to Bryant-Denny, but after this year's murderous road slate, the Tigers will take what they can get--and three road games as a potential favorite is an awfully nice thing for any West team to get. As solid as Vandy looks to be in Year 2 of the James Franklin reclamation project, too, it's doubtful the Tigers will mind the Gamecocks and Gators rotating off the schedule and the Commodores rotating on.
Doesn't like that: the Alabama game is on the road, or that they have to deal with the general pain of having the East's current best team as an annual rival. But this schedule shapes up much more like the Tigers' palatable 2010 slate than their 2011 one.
Likes that: if the Gators actually haul themselves up into a position to contend for the East title, they'll get potential co-challengers South Carolina and Missouri in Gainesville. And it's an even year, which means four home games and three true road games to go with the neutral-site Cocktail Party.
Doesn't like that: they get the "honor" of being the first SEC team to visit Kyle Field for a conference game; think the Aggie faithful will be a little fired up for that one? Having LSU as an annual rival hurts there days, and even getting them at home doesn't help since the Gators would likely prefer to have a more beatable opponent in that slot. Tough to get a rougher West draw than that.
Likes that: for the second straight season, there's still no LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas on the schedule. Instead, the Bulldogs get Ole Miss at home--the single easiest West game it was possible for them to pull. In terms of raw 2011 win-loss, the Bulldogs have the easiest set of opponents in the league.
Doesn't like that: if the East comes down to one game against either South Carolina, Florida, or Missouri, all three are away from Athens; with Auburn on the road, too, it's arguable that not one of the Dawgs' four toughest opponents will come to Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs can't complain too loudly (if at all) given the teams they're facing out of the West, but this is still a much tougher road to hoe than they faced in 2011.
Likes that: they get annual cross-division opponent Mississippi State at home; given the other options out of the West, that's not so bad. Their traditional most winnable SEC game -- Vanderbilt -- comes at home in 2012, too.
Doesn't like that: their other West game is a trip to Arkansas, two precious home games are "wasted" on the potentially out-of-reach Bulldogs and Gamecocks, or that they have to travel to Knoxville when the Vols are as vulnerable as they've ever been. (Though given the choice, they'd have surely taken them at home in 2011 rather than '12.) When you're Kentucky, it's hard to put together a schedule that doesn't immediately seem like an impossible hill to climb.
Likes that: Alabama has to return to Baton Rouge for a guaranteed night game that could -- again -- decide the SEC West. Though the Tigers would maybe rather have their dates with the Mississippi schools on the road (since they'd likely beat them anywhere), getting the Bulldogs and Rebels for back-to-back November home games should provide a nice lead-in to the critical season-ending roadie at Arkansas.
Doesn't like that: aside from the Alabama game, the SEC did the defending champs no favors. Gators/Gamecocks is almost as touch a draw from the East as you can get; the Tigers have to start their SEC season with a pair of challenging roadies at Auburn and Florida; and the long-awaited renewal of their hot-blooded rivalry with Texas A&M will begin in College Station rather than the friendly confiens of Death Valley. All together, no SEC contender will face a more difficult quartet of road games than the Tigers will.
Likes that: the winnable games are at home. Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and Auburn shape up as arguably the four most vulnerable opponents on the rebels' 2012 slate, and all four come to Oxford. If the Rebels go winless in conference for a second straight season, they can't say the schedule didn't give them a reasonable opportunity.
Doesn't like that: the road slate is just this side of completely impossible: at Alabama, at Arkansas, at Georgia, at LSU. Toughest set of road games for one team in SEC history? It's in play. And for a team as currently woebegone as the Rebels are, drawing Kentucky or Tennessee instead of Georgia out of the East would have been very, very welcome.
Likes that: their date with Kentucky is in Lexington but their dates with Alabama and LSU in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge, respectively; the Bulldogs should beat the former anyway, while traveling to the latter saves their home games for more beat-able Auburn, Texas A&M, and Tennessee. And speaking of the Vols--could MSU have drawn anything better out of the East than at the Wildcats and home vs. Tennessee? No, no they could not have.
Doesn't like that: the all-important Egg Bowl is at Ole Miss. But other than that, this is about as pleasant a schedule as State could expect.
Likes that: they host Georgia in their SEC debut, giving them a chance to take control of the East race (in front of what should be one of their season's best crowds) right off the bat. That three-week home stand in the middle of the season -- one that includes both Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- could be a springboard to bigger things down the road. And even if the middle game of that stretch is Alabama, a potentially unfortunate pull from the West in terms of the win column, might as well start off your SEC tenure with a bang, right?
Doesn't like that: games against potential East rivals South Carolina and Florida both come on the road.
Likes that: they get Georgia and Missouri at home and could use that advantage to earn a key head-to-head tiebreaker. That's about it.
Doesn't like that: they're still stuck with Arkansas as their annual West game and add a road date with none other than LSU; no one in the East faces a tougher pair of cross-divisional games. Coming only one season after the Gamecocks' West draw arguably kept them out of Atlanta singlehandedly -- they traveled to face Arkansas (and lost) while Georgia went to Oxford to crush the hapless Rebels -- that's a tough, tough pill to swallow. Going to Gainesville is adding insult to injury.
Likes that: Kentucky comes to Neyland for the best possible shot at starting a new streak over the Wildcats, and as potential West opponents go, the Vols could be facing one more difficult than Mississippi State (even on the road). Hosting Florida to kick off the SEC season could give Derek Dooley's under-fire tenure a quick jumpstart, and hey, get this--the Third Saturday in October is actually scheduled for the third Saturday in October.
Doesn't like that: road games at Georgia and South Carolina should pretty much end any hope of a dark horse SEC East run before it starts. And not that anyone in Knoxville wants to drop the Tide, but that series pretty much guarantees the Vols will have a rougher West draw than a team like, say, oh, Georgia.
Likes that: they get one of the league's glamour teams for their SEC debut, hosting Florida on Sept. 8; adding the Gators and old rivals LSU to the home slate will make season tickets at Kyle Field as hot as they've been in years. Traveling to the Mississippi schools isn't nearly as daunting as traveling to some other SEC locations.
Doesn't like that: they get a looming three-game road stretch between October and November that features visits to both Auburn and Alabama. If their date with Arkansas stays in Dallas for one more season -- the Aggies want to move it to College Station and it's all-but-certain to become a home-and-home in 2013 -- they'd have just three SEC home games total, a la Georgia.
Likes that: they can immediately announce themselves as serious SEC East players with a home date against the Gamecocks, one that will open the entire 2012 SEC season on Aug. 30. Their annual cross-division rivalry with Ole Miss has never looked better, and their other West opponent -- Auburn -- must come to Nashville.
Doesn't like that: in the event of a loss to South Carolina, consecutive road trips to Georgia and Missouri could take the wind completely out of the Commodores' sails by the first week of October.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 5:37 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The long wait to see exactly how the SEC has corralled its new 14-team monster of a league into its 2012 football schedule -- and on short notice, no less -- should be almost over.
According to a report Friday from Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun, the finished 2012 SEC schedule "is expected to be released Monday." The SEC's official Twitter feed confirmed Thursday that the schedule is in its "final stages" but would not be made public until after Christmas.
But to believe the sources who have spoken to Dooley, the process has already gone past those "final stages" to "completed." Among the impacts of the last-minute addition of Missouri to the SEC East, Dooley reports, is that Florida won't receive the returned home game from their cross-divisional rotation trip to Auburn this past season--nor will they get their new, expected rotated-in matchup against Ole Miss. Instead, the Gators will face only two West opponents (Texas A&M and annual cross-division rival LSU) while adding Missouri to their East slate.
Assuming that information is correct, it will put to bed once and for all the notion -- advanced in November by no less than South Carolina president Harris Pastides -- that the SEC is moving to a nine-game conference schedule for 2012. The SEC moved quickly to quash that suggestion at the time, and Mike Slive told the Birmingham News Thursday that he "[doesn't] sense any interest" in moving beyond the current eight-game arrangement.
But neither that statement nor the eight-game 2012 slate rules out a nine-game schedule in the league's future. Slive also confirmed that the 2012 schedule is intended as a one-year stopgap before the 2013 slate establishes the SEC's future divisional rotations, and pointedly added "Who knows what the future holds?" when asked about the possibility of nine games.
So some of the nagging questions about the new look SEC will (very likely) be answered on Monday. Some, though, are going to linger on for a good deal longer than that.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 3:59 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In 2008, SEC commissioner Mike Slive attempted to float a plus-one "playoff" proposal to revamp the BCS's method of determining a national champion. But even with the ACC's John Swofford also backing the idea and Slive wielding as much influence as anyone in college football, the proposal never got off the ground.
Ironically, that failure has done nothing but help Slive's league since then; buoyed (in part) by the conference's ever-growing reputation as the closest on-field product the college game has to the NFL, the SEC has won five straight national titles and will add a sixth when LSU faces off against Alabama on Jan. 9--a spot the Tide won in the polls over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State despite finishing second in the Tide's own division behind the Bayou Bengals.
So with the curent system playing to his teams' advantage like that, has Slive tempered his support for the plus-one? Judging from this interview with the Birmingham News, it doesn't sound like it:
"For the last six years, looking at it from our own prism, we were better off without it ... If I knew that for six more years it was going to work this way then I wouldn't be for the plus-one. But I think the law of averages catches up over time.Slive added that he would be "interested" to discover if conferences other than his own (and Swofford's) would support the plus-one if re-introduced. The Big 12 appears to be on board in the wake of the Oklahoma State snub, and while Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has not committed himself one way or another, his league's athletic directors have both voted in favor of one potential four-team playoff format and called the plus-one "inevitable." The Big Ten and Jim Delany may be the only holdouts, meaning that if Slive is still entirely behind the 2008 proposal (or something similar), there may be no stopping it when the BCS convenes in 2012.
Slive declined to discuss the likelihood of the dissolution of the BCS's automatic-qualifying status for conference champions, or other changes to the BCS selection process.
"There are lots of different ways to think about it and to overemphasize any one issue would be premature," he said.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:51 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Could the SEC take the plunge with a nine-game schedule in 2012? The league says no. But South Carolina president Harris Pastides says yes.
Pastides told the Carolina student newspaper the Daily Gamecock that the SEC had agreed to play a nine-game conference schedule as soon as next season, with each team playing the full six-team divisional round robin (as mandated by NCAA bylaws) and three cross-divisional games.
Since that would require each SEC team to drop a nonconference opponent from their schedule, Pastides said a plan had been put into place for the conference to reimburse schools for the costs of buying out that nonconference game. That same plan was also indepently reported by the Sporting News' Matt Hayes.
But if SEC public relations official, Charles Bloom is to be believed, a nine-game schedule would be news to the conference itself. Not long after the Pastidies interview went public, Bloom tweeted the following:
Not a lot of interpretative wiggle room in that statement, is there?
So: who's telling the truth? Speaking as fans of interesting, traditional cross-divisional games like Auburn-Tennessee or LSU-Georgia -- is anyone not? -- it would be nice if Pastides was; on an eight-game schedule, six divisional games and one protected crossover game means just one slot available for rotating through the other six cross-divisional opponents. Like the past two years' worth of meetings between Alabama and Florida? Sure hope so, because under the eight-game plan you won't see the Tide and Gators play again for 10 years.
But we're expecting that's the plan the SEC is adopting anyway. Nine games means one fewer nonconference game and one fewer revenue-generating home game every other year, and that's assuming you're talking about a team with four home games to start with; with Florida's annual home-and-home rivalry with Florida State and the neutral site game vs. Georgia, it's conceivable the Gators would play just five home games in a year. They won't go for that, and it's doubtful other SEC teams with important nonconference rivalries (Carolina vs. Clemson, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech) would either. Reports were rampant Monday morning that SEC A.D.'s and coaches were unilaterally opposed to a nine-game slate, and that's 100 percent what we would expect.
So until Mike Slive himself confirms that Pastides and the other presidents have strong-armed their schools into the nine-game plan, don't get your hopes up for it. The money says eight is better, and the money usually gets what it wants.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 11:36 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The worst kept secret in the south became official Sunday morning, as the Southeastern Conference officially announced that Missouri would join the league in 2012 along with Texas A&M. The announcement from the SEC is below.
Posted on: November 5, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 6:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The long song-and-dance between the SEC and Missouri appears nearly over.
A Sporting News report Saturday cited a "high-placed SEC source" that said the Tigers would be officially announced as the SEC's 14th team "early next week," possibly as soon as this Monday.
The report has since been confirmed by CBSSports.com senior writer Dennis Dodd.
Mike Slive declined to comment on the report.
The source claimed that Missouri will be added to the SEC's East division, balancing the addition of Texas A&M to the West and preserving the Alabama-Tennessee annual rivalry that might have been jeopardized if Auburn had been shifted to the East instead.
Though the Sporting News report did not mention whether the Tigers would join the league in time to play the 2012 SEC season, the recent leak of a pre-prepared welcome page on the SEC wesbite and Slive's admission the league is preparing for "13 or 14 team schedules" would seem to indicate they will.
The report suggests that the announcement could have been made earlier, but that Slive and the SEC did not want to detract from the buildup to tonight's mega-tilt between LSU and Alabama.
The Sporting News also reported that the league would be interested in creating its own network for the purpose of airing "low-tier non-conference games." Many of those are currently aired on pay-per-view packages or the regionally-aired "SEC Sports Network."
Posted on: October 27, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Hey, remember three days ago, when we told you that per Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, the SEC wasn't looking at a 14-team schedule for the 2012 season?
HAHAHA just kidding, folks:
As reported by the Birmingham News's Jon Solomon, yes, that's Mike Slive telling reporters at SEC basketball media days that McGarity was (as the kids say) full of it. (Slive only added that he had nothing else to add.) Since we're pretty sure there's no better source on this than the commissioner himself, it's now safe to assume that Missouri has not been ruled out from competing in the SEC in 2012 and that the league is prepared to make the necessary accomodations if the Tigers want to make the leap as soon as next season.
That, of course, was how Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton had previously described his school's potential jump, saying recently it would be "applicable to the next year."
That assertion has been challenged by everyone from McGarity to Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas to plenty of other anonymously sourced reports that have put Mizzou in the SEC in 2013 at the earliest. That makes more sense than the alternative, since the rearranging of 2012 schedules at this late date on both the Big 12's end (with a giant Missouri-sized hole in their slates) and the SEC's would be a logistical nightmare.
But it may be a nightmare both the Tigers and the SEC are willing to deal with, if it means the former dodges a lame-duck final season in the Big 12 and the latter avoids the awkwardness of a 13-team schedule. With Slive now openly admitting for the first time that the SEC is poised to go to 14 teams and the Big 12 actively pursuing the addition of one or more new members, it seems likelier than ever Missouri's defection could become official in a matter of days rather than weeks.
Will that be soon enough to leap through the rapidly-closing 2012 scheduling window? That still seems unlikely, but if Mike Slive himself is open to the possibility, the possibility is no doubt open.