Vandy's Franklin throws support behind Spurrier division games proposal

Mike Slive has said already that "an SEC football game is an SEC football game"--but that hasn't stopped another of his conference's coaches from advocating for some of those games to count more than others.

Vanderbilt's James Franklin joined the ranks of Steve Spurrier and Les Miles Friday in arguing that the SEC's divisional titles should be awarded solely on the basis on divisional records. Spurrier first proposed the idea in April, noting that last season his Gamecocks had played 6-2 Arkansas while eventual SEC East champion Georgia faced 0-8 Ole Miss.

While Franklin said he does not "have a real strong opinion," he also left no doubt that he would support Spurrier's proposal if it makes any headway at the upcoming SEC spring meetings.

"I think it makes a whole lot of sense,” Franklin told the Tennessean. “There could be years where you have a really strong conference schedule and years where you have a weak conference schedule depending on who (plays which teams from the other division). I think there’s validity to that argument. I would support that."

“There may be a year where you have a similar record to somebody else and they had a much stronger conference schedule … and you didn’t," he said. "I can understand that being a source of contention or a problem."

Well, funny that he mentions that, because until the 2011 season and Spurrier's complaints, cross-divisional opponent strength hadn't actually been a "source of contention." (Or at least, not a serious one; the league went from two to one permanent cross-divisional rivals in the late '90s partly over concerns of those rivals' strength not being distributed equally, but it wasn't a major, vocal issue at the time.) It's far from coincidence that Spurrier (and his South Carolina overseers) have found this particular religion just as the SEC's scheduling rotations have turned against them, or that Miles was the first SEC coach to rally to Spurrier's side given that his Tigers are due to continue their annual series with Florida--Gators' recent struggles aside, still the heaviest-recruiting heavyweight in the East.

Which means that despite Franklin's apparently good-natured support, this isn't an SEC problem as much as it is a South Carolina-in-2011-and-2012-and-LSU-if-Miles-says-so problem. And that's why we'll be surprised if -- despite the momentum the proposal seems to be gaining -- the final word doesn't remain Slive's initial salvo on the topic.

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