Tag:Mike Slive
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:03 pm
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Scott: Summertime before reaching BCS consensus

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LOS ANGELES -- Although the most recent BCS meetings wrapped up two weeks ago in Dallas and the NCAA tournament is fast approaching to steal headlines, discussion about the future of the college football postseason continues to bubble to the surface.

Speaking at the league's annual basketball tournament Wednesday evening, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott cautioned that any movement toward a specific postseason proposal would likely be months away from emerging.

"Once we start to get to the point where a consensus is emerging around a model or two, that's when conferences will be asked to kind of officially vote on something," Scott said. "It's a little hard to predict when exactly but it's probably summertime.

"I don't know if there will be a point where our conference declares exactly what it supports until there's a specific proposal in front of us. We're kind of far from that point and there's a lot more work that I need to do and my colleagues from other conferences need to do to narrow options and think of all the implications."

One of the few details to emerge about any new BCS deal over the past few months is that Scott and the Big Ten's Jim Delany prefer that only conference champions to be eligible for any sort of postseason playoff or plus-one. SEC commissioner Mike Slive, speaking to the Birmingham News earlier Wednesday, naturally disagreed with the notion, no surprise considering the all-SEC nature of the national championship game in January.

Approximately 50 proposals different have been presented to decision makers over the past few months and it seems that just about the only thing that anybody can agree upon is that the process will continue to evolve before everybody comes together again.

"It's an iterative process," Scott said. "The concepts will get more specific. I've been in constant contact with our AD's and presidents over the last few months - with our partners at the Rose Bowl in terms of priorities. We're starting to talk about options."

Which ones, exactly, remain to be seen.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Slive: plus-one shouldn't be champions-only

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Few individuals -- if any -- will have as large a say in the construction of the impending college football "plus-one" as SEC commissioner Mike Slive. And as of Wednesday, the construction Slive has in mind is one that won't be exclusive to conference champions.

Speaking to the Birmingham News, Slive said that he was "willing to have a conversation" about restricting the field to champions only, but that it wasn't his preference--no surprise, considering it was his conference that wedged its teams into both slots in the 2011 national title game.

"[I]f you were going to ask me today, that would not be the way I want to go," Slive said. "It really is early in the discussions, notwithstanding what some commissioners say publicly. There's still a lot of information that needs to be generated."

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott previously stated his support for admitting conference champions only, though we're not sure that veiled "some commissioners" jibe from Slive is a shot across Scott's bow or not.

What we are sure of is that Slive is more open to Jim Delany's proposal for on-campus semifinals than Scott's regarding league champions. While stopping well short of endorsing the Big Ten-backed suggestion, Slive also noted some of its benefits and kept the door well open to its consideration.

"There are plusses and minuses to that concept," Slive said. "One is that you're playing a couple games to determine the national champion and to make it a home game for somebody has always been perceived as a competitive advantage ... You have to look at that. The other side is there would be the question of fan travel and the ability to travel to one or more games. You guarantee good attendance (on campus) -- for one team.

"It needs to be looked at carefully. It's on the table and it should be on the table."

Slive also again declined to reveal details on the SEC' 2013-and-beyond scheduling arrangements and said the league wasn't interested in expanding beyond its current 14 teams. Of more interest was his comments on the league's ongoing television negotiations, reopened since the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri.

"They know who we are and what we have," Slive said. "None of our schools will be hurt financially (in 2012-13). But that's just today. It's tomorrow that's the real issue. The discussions are very important. They're longterm. We'll leave it at that."

Knowing that Slive's entire willingness to entertain expansion was -- very likely -- motivated first-and-foremost by a desire to rework the league's (mostly) static 15-year TV deal for something closer to the Big Ten and Pac-12's rapidly expanding, league network-driven contracts, could his emphasis on the "very important" "longterm" be commissioner-speak for a push for an SEC Network? 

We'd be stunned, frankly, if it means anything different. Slive's opinions and preferences on the plus-one matter a great deal where the rest of college football is concerned--but when it comes to the distant future of his own conference, those negotiations may be even more critical.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:23 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
 

S. Carolina president: cross-division games a go

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The official line from the SEC is that nothing happened in last week's conference scheduling meetings, and that the league is still considering all available options as it tries to solve its 14-teams-in-an-eight-game-slate schedule dilemma.

But South Carolina president Harris Pastides wandered well away from that line Saturday, telling The State newspaper and other outlets that the league had agreed to continue with permanent cross-division rivalry games--and that he will cast his vote for his Gamecocks to break off their 19-year arrangement with Arkansas.

According to Pastides, the rest of the SEC's athletic directors and presidents were committed to finalizing the new cross-divisional games when he elected to abstain, saying it was too soon for him to commit to South Carolina adopting a new annual series with Texas A&M. The Gamecocks' former West division partners, the Razorbacks, would pick up more geographically-friendly Missouri.

“I said, ‘Hold on a second. That’s a big decision, and I’d like to hear what the fans think about that,’" Pastides said. "They were kind of motivated to get it done and move on, and I said, ‘I think it’s premature. I need to go back to Columbia and see what people think about that.’ ”

According to State reporter Andy Shain, Mike Slive's response to Pastides's pronouncement was "Well good for him."

"Nothing is set yet," Slive emphasized.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity echoed Pastides' comments in a discussion with the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. McGarity had previously said his Bulldogs' rivalry with Auburn -- as its nickname goes, the "Deep South's Oldest" -- could be in danger, but sounded much more positive Sunday.  

"The tone of the conversations that everyone had sort of gave the impression that everyone had a sense, at least the majority had a sense, of liking the rivalry game with an opponent from the opposite division," McGarity said. "The tone led us to believe that this has a good opportunity of moving forward." 

Pastides' method for discovering what "people think about that" in Columbia was to ask the State to poll readers on their website about the possibility of replacing the Razorbacks with the Aggies. Some 76 percent of respondents voted in favor of starting the new series with A&M.

That landslide was likely made possible by the Hogs' rampant recent success against the Gamecocks, Arkansas having won three in a row and five of the last six in the series. The Gamecocks' much tougher draw out of the SEC West (Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State to Georgia's Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss) was blamed by many -- and not without reason -- for the Bulldogs winning the 2011 East's trip to Atlanta despite the Gamecocks' win over the Dawgs in Athens.

“We have great respect for Arkansas, but I think it’s fair to say our fans never developed the same kind of passionate rivalry about playing Arkansas that maybe some other university did playing their Western Division rivalry,” Pastides said, confirming that he would vote in accordance with the fans' wishes.

“I respect the fans," he said. "Fans are not often consulted on important decisions and ultimately administrators come and go and coaches come and go and athletic directors come and go and fans stay.”

According to Pastides, the final vote of the presidents rubber-stamping the new cross-divisional arrangements will come next week, following the SEC men's basketball tournament.

The proposal isn't in the clear just yet; Pastides himself admits "it's not a done deal," and he happens to be the same president who claimed the SEC had agreed to a nine-game schedule for 2012 last November. A permanent cross-division rival paired with an eight-game schedule would also result in teams playing other cross-divisional opponents only twice in 12 years.

So the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" and the "Third Saturday in October" aren't out of the woods yet. But they do, at least, seem safer than they were before last week's meetings--where the SEC may have made far more ground on the scheduling issue than they've let on.

Shain HT: Get the Picture. 

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:45 pm
 

The SEC schedule paradox: what are the options?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Attention Birmingham residents: don't be surprised if you look in the "help wanted" section of your local Craigslist this weekend and find an ad from a user named "NoJiveSlive6nCounting" seeking "experienced cat-herder, must be able to wrangle up to 14 strong-willed athletic direc ... er, cats, with 14 differing agendas into moving in the same direction. Happily. Or at least, not angrily."

If you do, you can bet it's a response to this week's meeting of SEC athletic directors, where efforts to begin hammering out a football schedule for 2013 -- and, more importantly, a planned rotation for the seasons beyond -- seemed to have gone just an inch or two past nowhere. Reading the comments of those A.D.'s both during and after the meetings, it's easy to see why; not only is every SEC school bringing its own aims and ideas to the table, but they can't even agree on what they think they agree on. Just ask LSU and Florida, who are both willing to give up their annual cross-division rivalry or, in fact, aren't, depending on who you ask.

Of course, anyone who wasn't expecting these kinds of difficulties as soon as Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league wasn't paying attention. As we've repeated ad nauseum in this space, what the SEC wants -- preserved cross-divisional rivalries, semi-regular rotations for other East-West matchups, a divisional round-robin -- and the number of league games in which it wants them -- i.e., eight -- is flatly impossible, the scheduling equivalent of dividing by zero. Some kind of compromise somewhere in that tangled thicket of demands is inevitable.

But which compromise makes the most sense? Let's break down the SEC's options:

1. A NINE-GAME SCHEDULE

Pros: The simplest solution would give the conference room to preserve one annual cross-division game per team (saving the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry and Third Saturday in October), two slots for rotating cross-division opponents (shortening the gap between home-and-homes to four years), and still fit in the NCAA-mandated six-game intra-divisional round-robin. There's little doubt the league's television partners would vastly prefer another round of conference contests to a snoozer over yet another faceless Sun Belt punching bag.

Cons: They are many, the biggest one being that half the league would be giving up the cash bonanza of a guaranteed home game each year; for teams committed to a nonconference rivalry that requires a biannual road game (South Carolina with Clemson, Georgia with Georgia Tech, etc.) that loss will be particularly tough to swallow. There's also the increased difficulty of bottom-rung teams scheduling their way to a bowl berth; the inevitable loss of one-off nonconference series like LSU's with West Virginia; the inherent unfairness of half the league getting five home games and half just four ... all in all, it's understandable why the league would prefer to stick at eight if at all possible.

2. KEEP SELECTED CROSS-DIVISIONAL RIVALRIES

Pros: In other words, let Georgia play Auburn and Alabama play Tennessee (and maybe LSU and Florida? Arkansas and Missouri?) on an annual basis while everyone else rotates their cross-division opponents. The rivalries that matter are preserved while teams without such rivalries maintain scheduling flexibility.

Cons: For the teams with permanent cross-division rivals and just one rotating cross-division slot, match-ups with the rest of the opposite division will be few and far between--just one home-and-home over 12 years. Will teams in the West who want to recruit Georgia be happy with one trip to Athens every dozen seasons? Will East teams that struggle to fill their stadiums like Vanderbilt or Kentucky be happy with one visit from the Crimson Tide every 12 years? Will traditional rivals Auburn and Florida live with almost never playing each other again? This compromise is better than assigning every team a permanent cross-divisional rival, but it still has major problems.

3. PLAY ONLY FIVE INTRA-DIVISIONAL GAMES

Pros: As discussed by Mississippi State A.D. Scott Stricklin here, this would require an NCAA waiver or repeal of the current rule requiring conferences to stage intra-divisional round-robins to hold a title game (and such a waiver was granted to the MAC, albeit when that league had 13 teams and needed it to make an eight-game schedule work). But it would free up one key slot for a cross-divisional game--and it's hard to think of a team in the league that wouldn't take someone in the opposite division over someone in their own. League regularly dealt with tiebreaks between teams that hadn't played head-to-head back in the pre-divisional days.

Cons: Just because they dealt with them doesn't mean awkward tiebreaks are somehow a good thing; ask the Big 12 about its 2008 season sometime. And it may all be moot anyway--the NCAA may not be inclined to grant the waiver in the first place.

4. REALIGN DIVISIONS

Pros: If Auburn/Georgia and Tennessee/Alabama need to play every year, why not just lump them all into the same division and make the issue of cross-division rivalries irrelevant? You'd have to ignore geography entirely where South Carolina was concerned, but a "Rivalry" division of Tigers, Bulldogs, Volunteers, Crimson Tide, Gators, Commodores, and Wildcats -- with LSU, A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, the Mississippi schools, and the Gamecocks in the "Other" division -- would preserve almost every classic SEC series. And if you don't like that arrangement, there's always other options.

Cons: Hoo boy, the Gamecocks would not be happy with having their Georgia series dissolved in the above scenario. And even if you convince them, any scenario which lumps both Alabama schools in with the traditional East powers is going to be far too competitively weighted towards that division--the West could have just one team (LSU) that had won the league since 1963. 

5. ELIMINATE DIVISIONS ENTIRELY

ProsMore than one SEC fan has proposed simply doing away with the divisional setup -- allowing teams to schedule as many annual rivals or rotated games as they wish -- and having the top two teams in the standings play off in the league championship game. No other suggestion in this list would make scheduling easier.

Cons: That the NCAA has mandated divisions for a championship game since the game's inception is a hurdle just a shade smaller than the Empire State Building, and of course the money-tree that is the SEC Championship Game is going to go away when Razorbacks fly. Then there's the tiebreaking issues, the regressive feel of reverting to the pre-1992 standings table ... this isn't happening.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Short of pitching two schools overboard, which will happen immediately after the league gives up its championship game to help it live a life of "monastic conferencehood, in which championships are awarded for each team's level of enlightenment," nope.

SO WHAT SHOULD THE LEAGUE DO?

Simple: go to nine games. For the likes of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky, this means just two nonconference "paycheck" breathers and some massaging of the road/home split to make sure each team doesn't have too many games away from home in one season.

But guess what? The Bulldogs only played two paycheck games last season, and they ended up all right. LSU played only six true home games last year, only two of them vs. tomato can opposition, and their world somehow continued to spin as well. We're not sure there's a fan in the league that wouldn't be willing to trade two seasons' worth of exhibitions against Cupcake State for one ticket vs. legitimate SEC opposition.

BUT WHAT WILL THEY DO?

Despite the noises coming from Georgia's Greg McGarity, we expect -- and fervently hope -- that even a money-grab as naked as this round of SEC expansion has its limits, and that those limits stop outside the cancellation of Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee. For now, expect the league to opt for option No. 2, where the schools who want permanent cross-division rivalries get them and those that don't don't. And in the long run? When the demands of television viewers and high price of paying off bodybags makes that extra home game more trouble than it's worth, the ninth game will make it debut. 

Unfortunately, there's going to be a lot of hand-wringing, a lot of scary-sounding statements, and a lot of Mike Slive cat-herding before we get to that or any compromise. Buckle in, SEC, fans.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 1:40 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 2:23 pm
 

SEC paying out record $19.5 million to members

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC is richer than it's ever been--but is it rich enough?

The Birmingham News reported Friday that according to the league's tax documents, the SEC distributed a conference record $19.5 million to each of its member schools for the 2010-2011 season, an increase of $1.2 million on both its 2009-2010 payout and its initial 2011 estimates. Thanks to the new(ish) CBS Sports/ESPN television contracts fueling the increase, those revenues also represent a whopping $6.5 million per-school bump -- a 50 percent increase -- over the league's distribution numbers just two seasons before. 

That's the great news for the SEC. The less-great news is that those figures still leave them a bit behind the Joneses Mike Slive is looking to keep up with in the Big Ten and Pac-12; the Sports Business Journal recently estimated those conferences' per-member distributions* at "close to $21 million," with the growth from their respective networks expected to push those numbers even higher in the coming years. The SEC, meanwhile, is locked into its current contracts until 2023, with TV revenue only increasing 3 percent in the second year of the league's new deals. 

That those revenues will be divided 14 ways rather than 12 following the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri would be another headache for Slive if those additions didn't also open up the possibility for a renegotiation of those television contracts. The ACC's ongoing expansion-triggered renegotiation is expected to net the league an additional $1 to $2 million per team per year--hardly chump change, but likely not the sort of numbers that would keep the SEC even with the Big Ten and Pac-12 come 2017 or '18, much less the tail end of its current contract (which could also be extended as part of the renegotiation).

Make no mistake: the SEC is currently swimming in money, will continue to swim in money, and has the kind of advantages that have nothing to do with money -- overwhelming fan interest, proximity to recruiting hotbeds, a firmly cemented reputation as college football's gold standard -- that will keep it at or near the top of the college football heap. Slive is hardly in crisis management mode. But "or near" may not be good enough for the SEC after its recent run, and a potential $4 or $5 million gap per-school between the league and its Midwestern/West Coast "rivals" -- sustained over a period of years -- could (or would?) eventually even (or even tilt) the playing field. 

Times are no doubt very, very good for the SEC both on the field and in its checkbook. But the upcoming negotiations between the league and its TV partners will likely play a huge role in whether future times are as very good or not.

*The SBJ also estimated the SEC's distribution figure at only $17 million, which could be either a good sign or a bad one from an SEC perspective; if that figure was simply wrong while the Big Ten's and Pac-12's was accurate, then the gap isn't as wide as believed. But if the SBJ was simply being conservative across the board and the B1G's/P12's numbers are also underestimated, it would mean those leagues' networks and TV deals have established a substantial financial edge even before they really get rolling.    

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:14 pm
 

Roundtable: College football valentines

Posted by Eye on College Football



Occasionally the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question in the world of college football. Today's query:

It's Valentine's Day, so pick someone or something from college football--person, team, conference, whatever. Who should they be sending a valentine to today, and what does that valentine say?

Bryan FischerI think the athletic directors at Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and Washington State should be sending a Valentine to Larry Scott this year. The Pac-12 commissioner unveiled his Pac-12 Network studios just yesterday, and that's appropriate considering the media deals he negotiated were the biggest reason those schools were able to off the sweetheart deals that landed their new coaches. Do you think the Bruins or Huskies could have afforded the assistant salaries before that money started flowing? Or that Wazzu was able to land a coach like Mike Leach? I don't think they do.

I'm guessing their valentine says something to the affect of, "Thank$ Larry for everything, hope you'll be our Valentine for several more years."

Tom Fornelli:  I'm going to say TCU and West Virginia owe Missouri and Texas A&M a valentine this year, one with some expensively-licensed cartoon character saying "Thanks for the sloppy seconds!" If not for those two leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, then both TCU and WVU are stuck in the Big East for 2012 at least--a Big East that's without a clear future at the moment, and seems en route to becoming Conference USA version 2.0.

Instead the Frogs and Mountaineers have joined the Big 12, which is in much better shape than the Big East and will provide far more money for both schools in the long run.

Jerry Hinnen: If I'm Mike Slive, I'm sending out a valentine to Dana Holgorsen -- or maybe Gus Malzahn, or Mike Leach, or Todd Monken -- saying "WILL YOU BE MINE?" festooned with as many hearts (and dollar signs) as it takes to convince them to try their hand (again, in Malzahn's case) in the SEC. There's no doubting the SEC's dominance on the defensive side of the ball or its overall array of talent, but the 2011 season also showed a league in dire need of an infusion of offensive ingenuity, preferably (for variety's sake) out of the spread school. Alabama's yawn-inducing strangulation of LSU in the BCS title game is Exhibit A for the conference's current cloud-of-dust tendencies, but the overall statistical picture is even more damning: six different SEC teams finished in the bottom 25 in the FBS in total offense, with zero finishing in the FBS top 25. (Arkansas ranked highest at 29th.) 

Some of that is good defense; an awful lot of it is terrible offense, too. And it may get worse before it gets better--look at the likes of former offensive juggernauts Florida and Auburn, currently undergoing dramatic offensive regime changes after regressing badly in 2011.

Defense may win championships, but offense often wins TV ratings, as the BCS championship Nielsens will tell you. The SEC's current regular season ratings are fine, of course, but Slive is about to go back to the negotiating table to try and keep his TV contract up with the Joneses of the Big Ten and Pac-12, a table to which he'll want to bring every single positive for his league he can gets his hands on. The SEC will be a-OK with or without the Big 12's reputation for high-flying offensive theatrics, but that doesn't mean Slive -- and a league full of fans likely tiring of watching Tennessee and South Carolina combine for 17 points and barely more than 500 yards in nationally televised prime-time -- wouldn't welcome someone who could shake up the conference's burgeoning reputation for Slugfest-with-a-capital-S football. Kevin Sumlin gets first crack, but we're guessing Slive would prefer he had some high-profile help sooner rather than later.

Chip Patterson: If I'm Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, I'm sending roses, candy, banners, and thankful notes to new head coach Urban Meyer.  Even with an ill-timed bowl ban from the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Meyer has cooled much of the heat on Smith after the fallout surrounding Jim Tressel's departure.  Winning cures all, but hiring a two-time national champion to supposedly guide your program out of the darkness will certainly hold the Buckeye fans over until the bowl ban is lifted.  Meyer hit the recruiting trail hard after his hire, pulling in a top-5 recruiting class despite the sanctions from the NCAA.  

If Smith had whiffed on his hire to replace Tressel, he would find himself under further scrutiny with the additional sanctions.  Meyer is exactly the home run hire Ohio State -- and Gene Smith -- needed.  In fact, a valentine might not be enough.  Maybe Smith should get a tattoo. 

What? Too soon? 

Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:29 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:45 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Breaking down who won and who lost in the SEC on National Signing Day:

 

WINNERS

Mike Slive. Anyone who doubted Missouri's conference cred had to fall silent for at least a day as the Tigers introduced the nation's No. 1 recruit into the SEC East. The rest of the Tigers' class may not be as deep as many of their new league rivals', but when said class also includes a star as overpoweringly bright as Dorial Green-Beckham, it's hard to see any flaws.

Players to watch: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, G Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk.  

Alabama. Yawn--just another No. 1-ranked class of 25-plus blue-chips for Nick Saban's perpetual recruiting motion machine, with the surprise signing of highly regarded Virginia defensive tackle Korren Kirven the icing on a cake the Crimson Tide had baked long before Wednesday. By his own admission, Saban said they "didn't have any surprises," for worse or -- this being Alabama -- better. Once Kirven had declared and top safety Landon Collins had finally gotten his mother on board, the drama in Tuscaloosa was over.

In fact, after a big Junior Day haul, Saban and Co. are already off and sprinting for 2013. Come next February, it's likely there won't be any surprises then either. It may not be exciting for anyone hoping for stunning announcements, big rankings swings, and overheated speculation -- the Tide may have used it all up in last year's Cyrus Kouandjio saga -- but it's the same lethally efficient formula that's netted Saban two national championships in three seasons. Nothing much changed for Alabama on Signing Day, but unfortunately for the rest of college football, that means nothing much has changed when it comes to the difficulty of knocking the Tide off their perch, either.

Players to watch: S Landon CollinsRB T.J. YeldonCB Geno SmithVideo: Saban on being No. 1 on the recruiting trail. 



James Franklin. When Franklin's blazingly hot start last summer netted him a commitment from All-American running back Brian Kimbrow, the nation's no. 52 player, the response from many observers around the SEC was "That's impressive. It'll be even more impressive if he actually signs."

Not every one of those early Vanderbilt commitments made it across the finish line. But Kimbrow did, along with 20 other quality players that had the 'Dores in the CBS Sports National Signing Day  Top 25 a week beforehand. Vandy couldn't quite hang on to that lofty ranking, but even having the SEC's eternal doormat in a "top 25" conversation is an achievement for Franklin arguably on par with Saban's in Tuscaloosa. 

Players to watch: RB Brian Kimbrow, DE Caleb AzubikeQB Pat Robinette.

Steve Spurrier's nerves. South Carolina isn't traditionally the first team you'd think of when looking for a comparison to Alabama when it comes to recruiting success. But the Gamecocks might be this year, thanks in part to joining the Tide in the team rankings top 10 (believe it or not, Carolina quietly finished third in the SEC). But like Alabama, the Gamecocks also enjoyed a pleasantly uneventful Signing Day, with 19 of the 25 Gamecocks who signed today having already committed before the 2011 season started. 

“It’s been a peaceful Signing Day today, which was kind of nice,” recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said. And when you peacefully land players like Shaq Roland and Jordan Diggs, doubly so.

Players to watch: WR Shaq Roland, RB Mike DavisDB Jordan Diggs. Video: Spurrier talks recruiting impact. 


LOSERS

Mark Richt's nerves. On the other side of the spectrum from Alabama and South Carolina, there was Georgia's National Signing Day. The day started with the disappointment of missing out on receivers Cordarelle Patterson (Tennessee) and JaQuay Williams (Auburn) (leaving the Bulldogs with just one wideout in the class), then picked up with a commitment from Maxpreps top 100 linebacker/safety Josh Harvey-ClemonsBut that a.m. joy dissolved into p.m. worry as Harvey-Clemons grandfather and legal guardian reportedly refused to sign Harvey-Clemons' letter of intent. Adding insult to injury, Richt's premature public comments on Harvey-Clemons may have even constituted a minor NCAA violation.

With or without Harvey-Clemons, the Bulldogs are still going to boast a star-studded class with nearly as many top 100 recruits (five, or six) as any team in the country. But the potential of losing Harvey-Clemons to hated Florida with the Gators already sitting some 15 spots ahead in the team rankings is likely to cause a restless evening (or evenings) in Athens all the same.

Players to watch: OL John TheusRB Keith MarshallDE Jordan Jenkins. Video: Will Muschamp on Florida's Signing Day.

LSU's in-state clout. There's about 105 FBS teams or so that would gladly trade classes with LSU's, especially after the addition of out-of-state gems like Oxford (Ala.) linebacker Kwon AlexanderBut in a somewhat down year for talent in the Pelican State, the Tigers had to lock down the borders to put together a truly elite class, and that didn't happen--not only did Collins and highly-regarded linebacker Denzel Devall stick with their Alabama commitments, Texas shocked Les Miles by snatching away the Tigers' blue-chip linebacker Torshiro Davis. (Davis rubbed salt in Miles's wound by saying LSU's players "don't seem that happy.")

Those were the top three players in the state by many accounts, and LSU didn't land any of them. It's not the end of the world, but for a program built on an annual harvest of blue-chippers from the bayou, it's a worrying sign all the same.

Players to watch: OL Vadal Alexander, WR Avery Johnson, LB Trey Granier.  

Arkansas. As usual under Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks signed a respectable-but-not-spectacular class that Petrino will no doubt turn into something far more than the sum of its parts once it comes together in Fayetteville. But to come as close as they reportedly did to signing the player that would have helped cement their status as a national power and come up short has to sting.

Players to watch: LB Otha Peters, OG Jeremy Ward, RB Jonathan Williams.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

Auburn. On the good side: wide receivers JaQuay Williams and Ricardo Louis each stuck with their original commitments to the Tigers, offensive lineman Will Adams flipped from Georgia Tech, and top tackle Avery Young gave Auburn a top-100 cornerstone at Georgia and Florida's expense. On the not so good side: Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, Leonard Williams, Alexander and Jordan Moore all had Auburn as one of their finalists and all went in a different direction. Gene Chizik's boom-or-bust Signing Day somehow managed to neither quite boom nor bust.

Players to watch: QB Zeke Pike, RB Jovon Robinson, DB T.J. Davis. And to wrap things up, here's some video of Derek Dooley:


Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:22 pm
 

SEC official: 'We're not going to nine' games

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mike Slive and the SEC have stated (on multiple occasions) that the league's 2012 schedule is a stopgap solution before more permanent answers to the questions of cross-divisional rivalries and rotations are established in 2013. But according to conference official Larry Templeton, there's one thing that won't change in the schedule between 2012 and 2013: the number of games in it.

Templeton, chair of the SEC's transition team, confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Missouri Monday that the conference will not be considering moving to a nine-game schedule in 2013 ... or ever.

"We're not going to nine," he said. "The competitiveness in our league week-to-week is just too strong. It would be an easier scheduling format, but I don't think it would be fair to our players or our coaches."

In November, South Carolina president Harris Pastides said the league planned to move to a nine-game slate, but that claim was quickly shot down by the league and Slive himself, who said in December he didn't "sense any interest" from member schools in adding an additional league game.

Assuming the SEC sticks with Templeton's assertion that a nine-game schedule is off the table, the league faces a difficult catch-22. With six of the eight games already guaranteed to be divisional games (thanks to the 14-team expansion and seven teams in each division), only two will be devoted to cross-divisional contests. Make one of those a permanent cross-divisional rival and rotate through home-and-home series in the last remaining slot, and non-rival teams in opposite divisions will play each other just twice in a span of 12 years. Give both slots over to rotations, and suddenly some the bedrock rivalries of the league -- Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee, to name the two most prominent -- are no longer annual affairs.

"That is a huge question that has not been answered ... It will be an interesting debate," Templeton said. "I think anything else is on the table for discussion. We're going to have to make some tough decisions. Are we going to stay with the permanent opponent, and then how are we going to rotate that one other game?"

One possible solution would be for some teams (like the Tide and Vols, or Tigers and Bulldogs) to keep their permanent cross-division rival while the others have both their East-West games rotate. But that could prove unnecessarily complicated, and would still force those teams with permanent rivals to see opposite-division teams exceedingly rarely. 

Of course, there are some positives to sticking with an eight-game schedule; teams with annual nonconference rivalries like South Carolina (with Clemson) or Florida (with Florida State) will find it much easier to maintain those with four non-league games available, and the capacity to schedule an extra "paycheck game" will greatly aid the league's lower-rung teams in reaching bowl eligibility. 

But already, many SEC fans would say the conference's traditional powers -- say, Alabama and Florida, or LSU and Georgia, or old rivals Auburn and Tennessee -- don't play often enough. The most likely outcome of an eight-game schedule is that games between those teams would become even more scarce. Expansion may boost the league's bottom line if its forthcoming post-14-team TV negotiations prove fruitful, but it will still come at a price, and games like this past two season's showdowns between the Tide and Gators look like they'll going to be that price.

HT: Get the Picture. 

For more from the Eye on CFB on the SEC, click here.

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