SEC meetings notebook: League backs playoff plan

DESTIN, Fla. — The Southeastern Conference still has to hash out its playoff position this week on how teams should be selected and where the games would be played, but its football coaches and its commissioner agree on one thing for sure.

“I’m in favor of the best four teams in the country playing for the national championship,” Mike Slive reiterated Tuesday at the end of the first day of the league’s spring meetings.

That, the commissioner says, should come in a four-team playoff.

“I’ve been there for so long,” Slive said. “I’m comfortable there. I think it does a lot more for postseason football and potentially for a lot of other conferences.”

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has again backed a plus-one model that would have a national championship game after the bowls.

The ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten all back a model that would give greater consideration to conference champions.

The SEC coaches beg to differ.

“We don’t think it should be that you must be a conference champion to be able to play in it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

Of course, those coaches come from a conference that sent Alabama and LSU to the BCS title game last year.

Slive supports the semifinals of a four-team playoff being part of the bowls.

“The bowl system has been part of our tradition for a long time,” he said. “Our coaches and our AD thinks it makes sense in a bowl system.”

The SEC will have to come to agreement with the other conferences.

“I’m hopeful that somewhere that we can find a place where we’re all comfortable,” Slive said.

Schedule formats

The plan is for the SEC’s football scheduling format for 2013 and beyond to be determined this week.

Permanent cross-division opponents are expected to remain in the eight-game schedule, including Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee.

“We wanted to preserve rivalries even though we have expanded,” Slive said of the 14-team league that now includes Texas A&M and Missouri. “We obviously want to create some new rivalries as we go.”

South Carolina is expected to play Texas A&M instead of Arkansas annually.

“They’ve been kicking our butts the last few years,” Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said. “We have lost seven games the last two years and five of them are to Auburn and Arkansas. That doesn’t make sense does it? We are pretty good against those other guys I guess but those guys have kicked our tails. I don’t know how much of a rivalry we have with them.”

Auburn coach Gene Chizik is a proponent of keeping Georgia on the schedule.

“It’s the longest standing rivalry in the south and there’s too much value in it,” he said. “So however we have to hold onto that, it’s my hope that the people who make those scheduling decisions are going to keep it, and I feel very confident that is going to happen.”

The actual schedule for 2013 and future years won’t be announced this week.

“I don’t think we’ll have any kind of grid or model about who you’re playing,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said.

The other SEC West team besides Auburn for Georgia isn’t expected to be revealed.

Slive said future schedules won’t nescessarily go out for 12 years as has been reported.

Fox’s ‘natural rival’

The SEC will play an 18-game league basketball schedule in 2012-13. The discussion this week is finalizing the format.

“We’re looking at one right now,” Slive said.

Georgia men’s coach Mark Fox said he would love to have Florida, as Georgia’s “natural rival,” to play twice each season. He also mentioned Auburn.

South Carolina is another possibility.

“I think that Georgia obviously has a great rivalry with Florida,” Fox said. “It covers all sports. …Will that fit in our model? I hope so.”

The SEC tournament is likely to include all 14 teams, with the bottom four teams in play-in games.

“I think everybody should go,” Fox said. “I think that’s a new season for everybody. As the league grows and changes, there will be a lot of things that we probably do for the first time that we all think are great, but a year from now we may not think are so hot. There’s a lot of new territory for all of us.”

This and that

Slive downplayed any more expansion on the horizon for the league. “I was comfortable at 12,” Slive said. Of course, Texas A&M and Missouri are here for their first SEC spring meetings and officially join the league July 1. …There is no NCAA legislation being proposed this year by the SEC, which McGarity said has “quieted the waters,” at the meeting. “There is a two-year moratorium on that,” he said. “There was not one NCAA agenda item on the books today, which saves us a tremendous amount of time, discussion and argument.”

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