Substantial agenda on tap for SEC spring meetings

University of Georgia president Michael Adams will attend his 15th Southeastern Conference spring meetings this week in Destin, Fla.

There may not be another during that span that has offered up more meaty matters for the conference’s presidents, athletic directors and coaches to sink their teeth into.

“I’m not sure we’ve had a Destin meeting in a long time with as much of a substantive agenda as I expect next week,” Adams said Thursday.

The top item on the agenda will be the SEC determining its positions on college football’s postseason — issues like where a four-team playoff would be played, how the teams would be selected and the role of the bowls — following the 2014 season after the BCS contract has expired.

“The normal swirl is a little greater swirl this year because of the issues surrounding football,” said Adams, who is retiring as UGA president in June 2013.

Football and the lucrative TV dollars that come with it is a big reason why the SEC has more than tripled the money it’s distributed among its schools since Adams’ first attended the meetings in 1998, growing from $62.1 million then to more than $220 million last year.

This will be the first SEC spring meetings for new members Missouri and Texas A&M, which are leaving the Big 12. The meetings begin in earnest on Tuesday and run through Friday.

The SEC presidents held a “very lengthy” conference call May 17 leading up to the meetings, Adams said.

“This is one, sort of like coaches’ salaries and contracts, that kind of gets the presidents’ blood moving a bit,” Adams said. “I think there will be some strongly held opinions among the presidents about how those questions ought to be answered. How much direction the commissioner is going to be given, I don’t know yet.”

There will certainly be buzz around — and perhaps talk behind closed doors in the meetings — about more realignment after a hectic year of movement that also included West Virginia to the Big 12 and Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC.

Will Florida State leave the ACC for the Big 12 after its board chairman expressed dissatisfaction with the value of the ACC’s recent TV deal with ESPN? Other ACC schools have also addressed in recent days whether they would entertain a move.

Clemson’s board of trustees chairman told the website orangeandwhite.com the school is committed to the ACC, but would consider proposals from other leagues and do “what’s in the best interest” of the school.

There is talk of all of this leading to four, 16-team superconferences.

The SEC and Big 12 already announced earlier this month that they will play in a showcase New Year’s Day bowl game pairing the regular-season champions from their leagues. That was viewed as an answer to the Pac-12-Big Ten alliance in the Rose Bowl.

“I think there’s both a protection factor and a leverage factor that went into those decisions,” Adams said. “Our responsibility is to protect the SEC, regardless of what happens nationwide and that’s what we tried to do there.”

The SEC is already looking at forming its own TV network as early as 2014, The SportsBusiness Journal has reported.

Athletic directors have been attempting to hammer down future football and basketball scheduling in recent months in meetings in Nashville, New Orleans and Phoenix.

“Now is when we finally put it to rest for hopefully a 12-year period in football,” said Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity.

That will allow Georgia and other schools to fill out their nonconference football schedules beyond 2015.

McGarity said he feels “really good” about Auburn remaining on Georgia’s future SEC schedules as the permanent cross-division opponent from the SEC West, but that will be finalized with the president’s approval late in the week. The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry also is expected to remain on the conference slate.

The conference is playing eight league games with a 6-1-1 model this year, with six divisional games, a permanent cross-division foe and a rotating cross-division team.

The league could choose to continue that and rotate opponents home and away. Or it could go through every cross-division opponent before a return game comes in six years.

“I’m excited for it to be over,” McGarity said.

The playoff discussion will continue into summer at least.

Presidents and chancellors who oversee the BCS are expected to meet in Washington on June 26

Adams told the Georgia athletic board this past week that he thinks the SEC presidents are nearing a unified position on playoffs.

“There’s still a lot of details to be worked out, but I think at least our position on many of those details should become pretty clear, assuming the presidents can agree on anything,” Adams said after the meeting. “I think there’s a general consensus about where we’re heading.”

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