SEC votes to remain at 8-game schedules
Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013 7:00 pm
By CHRIS LOW
DESTIN, Fla. — The short-term answer for the SEC is to keep the number of conference games at eight, but coaches and athletic directors agreed Wednesday that a move to nine is probably inevitable.
The head coaches voted 13-1 to stay at eight conference games. The only coach voting for nine conference games was Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Larry Templeton, who has headed up scheduling during the SEC’s transition to 14 schools, said a rotation has been approved through 2026 that would include eight conference games with six divisional opponents, one permanent cross-divisional opponent and one rotating cross-divisional opponent.
That rotation will begin in 2014, but the question becomes: How long will that format remain in place?
“Personally, I think we’ll end up moving to nine (conference) games eventually,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “My personal opinion (is) you create an SEC Network, at the end of the day, it’s going to be driven by the dollar, and having those games is going to be important, and having enough quality games on television promoting a nine-game SEC regular season, in my opinion, will eventually happen.”
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said it’s doubtful the 2014 schedule will be finalized this week at the SEC spring meetings. He’s declined to weigh in on whether he’s in favor of going to nine conference games.
But, he didn’t hold back on the importance of SEC schools upgrading their nonconference schedules.
“I don’t want us playing four games that mean less,” Slive said. “I made that very clear.”
Alabama’s Bill Battle and Tennessee’s Dave Hart were two athletic directors who said they anticipate the SEC going to nine conference games at some point.
But Battle said it’s even more important that SEC schools play at least 10 “good” games.
“Our fan experience needs to improve, and the way to improve fan experience is to put on more good games,” he said.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier suggested that the financial reward of playing nine conference games probably would be too lucrative for the league to pass up down the road.
Still, he likes the idea of being able to schedule attractive nonconference games.
The Gamecocks are one of four teams in the SEC that play in-state rivalry games against nonconference foes every year.
Published in The Messenger 5.30.13