Florida President reveals SEC play-off plan

The SEC will be pushing a four-team play-off plan to determine future National Champions, Florida’s Chancellor told a press conference at this year’s SEC Spring Meetings.

Dr Bernie Machen of Florida – talking down the road from UF’s campus in Gainseville in Destin – said at a press conference: “We want a four-team play-off”.

He added: “I would be amazed if it wasn’t a four-team play-off with semifinals in the bowl system and a final championship game bid out separately.”

Machen added that the SEC would be pushing for the four best teams in college football to play each other – regardless of whether they’d won the conference championship or not. Last year that means even if Georgia HAD caught some passes and won the Championship game against LSU, they probably wouldn’t have made the SEC Championship Game. Going 0-2 early in the season hurt, folks.

He told the press conference that things were expected to be finalized by the end of June. Machen also serves on the BCS Oversight Committee, so he’d be an expert.

What’s also interesting is that the Committee at the Big XII are also pumping for a four-team play-off, meaning that the pressure on the NCAA essentially to go with College Football’s version of a ‘Final Four’ (please God, can this be the case?) is virtually unstoppable- regardless of what the Big Ten is going to say (We’re sure they’ll say: ‘Love the four-team play-off, but remember our Rose Bowl’).

THE BOTTOM LINE: The SEC is going to do what is in its interests, and going for the four-team play-off ignoring conference championships is clearly what is in its interests. Having said that, it does degrade the conference championships a little – and puts into question – what happens to the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl in all of this?

And this won’t hurt the SEC and Big XII’s new bowl, either, will it. Or, as Machen told reporters: “It can’t hurt”. 

If  play-off format had existed this season, we would have plumped for LSU, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma State. Why OSU and not Arkansas? OSU may have lost to Iowa State, but it still beat Oklahoma and everyone else. 

Ohio State cancels Georgia football series

The biggest scheduling news to come out of the Spring Meetings might not be from Mike Slive but from the Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, who confirmed that the 2020-1 series between Ohio State and Georgia has been cancelled.

Scheduling website FBSchedules.com informed SEC Football Blog via Twitter that it had broken the story after a record request from UGA, and that beat reporters had then jumped on the news.

Whoever broke the story – the big word we have about this is: Bummer. The home-and-home could have been an all-time great one.

According to letters, Ohio State cancelled the Memorandum of Understanding, not Georgia. And it’s not going to cost either of the programs money, which is nice. I bet the Buckeyes and Bulldogs fans can’t wait to see their team play Western Kentucky and Idaho as replacements.

FB Schedules.com says that it’s possible that the cancellation was due to the Big Ten and Pac-12 signing a long-term scheduling agreement with each other, starting 2017. Or we’d go with that Gene Smith didn’t want to screw up his school’s National Championship chances by playing anyone good (it’s not how Urban Meyer has won titles with Florida over the years (Can someone name me a good non-conference opponent for the Gators in the past five years, please?)

What’s hilarious is the Twitter conversations slaughtering UGA for cancelling the deal…

@ParrishWalton: So I see UGA’s schedule is now just like UF’s, McGarrity’s last stop. Who wants to see Oregon or OSU on the road anyway.”

Let’s hope that McGarity and Smith are as good as their words and get this game done sometime in the future – these two sides only met once.




Contributor article: SEC coaches vote in a player stipend, now should the NCAA?

Alex Ferguson, writer of the college football blog “The View From North America” wrote a lovely piece about the NCAA and whether it should pay players.

He’ll be contributing SEC-related articles to the SEC Football Blog from time to time because as he says: “My blog needs some airing elsewhere”.

We’ll let you know if the arrangement doesn’t work out.

Anyway, here’s his first article….(taken from the View From North America’s site) – 

While all the chat at the SEC’s Spring Meetings in Destin, Fl. may have been about scheduling, play-offs, and the amazing haircuts of Mssrs. Miles and Saban, the biggest news was one that was rather buried.

We heard that every SEC coach had voted in a $300-per-game stipend for players. “We think they need more and deserve more”, said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told the Athens Banner-Herald.

Say that again? Every SEC coach voted in a $300-per-game stipend. They want the players to be paid to play.

Now, paying the players didn’t make it past the ADs or university presidents, but it was unlikely to. Why? Because paying the players is a NCAA deal, not a conference deal.

But if there’s any chink in the pay-to-play armour, it was going to be done at coach level, and despite many screaming about the free education, it’s important these kids get paid.

For the record, we at the VFA are happy with Spurrier’s suggestion of $300-per-player, per game. And if comes out of the coach’s pocket (like Spurrier suggests), then so be it.

Here’s why:

1) Many college football players come from poor backgrounds (particularly in the SEC). Football will mean everything to them, because otherwise, they go back to nothingness.

2) Giving players a small stipend helps to teach them a little about what will happen to them financially in the future when they arrive in the NFL (Or more’s the case, if they make it to the NFL). Money becomes less of a shock to them.

3) Universities and clothing companies make a gazillions from merchandising, kit deals, and season ticket sales from the players, who are suddenly scolded by every member of the media if they say: “Is this right?”

Legendary Oregon running back LaMichael James tweeted about the University of Oregon auctioning off one of his jerseys“I love the university but the amount of money they made off me I could buy several eductions lol am I a donor now?” 

And school policy at the university of Oregon – this article noted – made players buy their own jerseys back. Oh, so that’s OK then.

AJ Green could probably have a similar complaint about the University of Georgia and the amount of money the University – and Nike – made off the No.8 shirt when he was there.

4) The NCAA, the BCS, and the associated conferences as organisations make a mind-boggling amount of capital from college football and college basketball. The NCAA’s deal with CBS/TNT for March Madness is worth $10.8bn. I’ll say that again. $10.8bn. The deals for the Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC Networks are almost as equally extraordinary.) But in the land of zeroes, the players also know about that, because they get paid zero, too.

Some members of the media don’t like the idea of players getting paid to pay. They think of the junior doctor who’s going to save lives for a living  has to pay their own way through school. The junior doctor, when he’s qualified, will earn more money for a longer time than the football player – and will probably have a longer life.

There are some who think that a pay-for-play would be disastrous, as it would cause college players of the world to unite and could possibly lead to a strike. Possibly. But why not give it a try? Players deserve to be paid. They are bringing so much cash into the game, and deserve something out of it.

The final question is: Will the NCAA vote it through?

The final answer is: If the NCAA know what’s right, they will.

Slive: “We’re pretty much there” on scheduling

Despite the griping of the coaches, the SEC is close to getting some finality regarding a scheduling deal, Commissioner Mike Slive has told the SEC’s website.

“I anticipate that by Friday afternoon, we will have a format,” he said.

Coaches have been vigorous in their ideas of what they want varying to non-division games to count for nothing (Steve Spurrier and Les Miles), to no permanent non-division rival (Miles, who’s anxious on avoiding Florida year in, year out, despite the rivalry going on for 41 years), to a 6-1-1 deal.

“There are pros and cons for every format,” Slive said. “I was impressed with the thoughtfulness that the football coaches brought to the meeting today.”

 “It’s not easy,” Slive said. “Depending on where you sit, your priorities may be different than another institution’s priorities, and how do you balance that? That’s really what is going on. It’s really a healthy discussion….I think before they get done, everybody will have thought through all the issues and the decision will be made.”

Whatever happens, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Schedule grumblings dominate SEC Spring Meetings talk

It’s as though everyone’s either on a schedule, or grumbling about them these days. And the SEC coaches are no different at the Spring Meetings in Destin, FL.

A few points:

  • There some seriousness in discussions of nine-game SEC schedule, with Nick Saban advocating it, according to Clay Travis..

“Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID: Biggest news on SEC football coaches meeting was seriousness of 9 game schedule. Told Saban advocated for 9.”

  • Steve Spurrier wants divisions decided not by overall SEC record, but divisional record, and boy is he banging his drum about it. He’s still a little peeved that South Carolina didn’t get into its second straight SEC title game, even though it beat Georgia (in one of the games of the season, we might add). Although we’re sure that Georgia will argue that it beat Auburn, something that Spurrier’s team was incapable of doing.
  • Les Miles – as usual – was being his usual passionate self. His quotes via reporters (who are there) on Twitter:

Wes Rucker‏(@wesrucker2):  “If Mississippi State’s gonna play Kentucky every year, I think that’s disproportionate. I just think, I just, I’m not for that.

sosogoodpi2 ‏(@sosogoodpi2): Les Miles just said a majority of SEC coaches don’t want the permanent non-divisional games but do respect Tennessee-Alabama.

Dan Wolken (@DanWolken)Per @schadjoe Les Miles says it’s “disproportionate” MSU plays UK while LSU plays Fla. What else is disproportionate? YOU’RE FREAKING LSU!

  • Miles was also a vigorous proponent of the 6-2 format, according to the Macon Telegraph, with no permanent rival. He must be really scared of playing Florida every year – or he really believes Mississippi State’s going to be the next Alabama under Dan Mullen.
  • Mark Richt told the AJC the coaches weren’t actually decided on anything – not how many teams they wanted to play or whether to have permanent rivalries. He added that he thinks the 6-1-1 model system will eventually pass. He did note that Spurrier’s proposal (backed up by Les Miles) that only divisional games should count didn’t get anywhere. He told the Macon Telegraph in his usual reasonable fashion: “The more that was discussed, the more everybody realized that’s not gonna happen. Your crossover games are gonna have to count. It’s true in just about every sport in America; you may have your divisional games in the NFL, and you may have your games that are not.”
  • Commissioner Mike Slive says that he expects a decision to be done on scheduling by Friday. Which, knowing Southern time, will probably be by the Friday of Media Days. Not because they are inefficient, but someone’s going to have to step down….
  • No word yet on whether Dan Mullen’s proposal of a Final Four got everyone as excited as it did us. Our Final Four for the record? LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Wisconsin. Sorry Arkansas, sorry Stanford, and very sorry, Oklahoma State. OSU, you shouldn’t have lost to Iowa State.

Project Dough: The new name for the SEC Network

The SEC has a TV network, and they aren’t going to be afraid to use it. Just think Big Ten TV, except far, far bigger. It’s going to own the South, and then cross the Mason-Dixie Line and keep going, until even the Canadians say: “Screw the CFL, we’ll just watch SEC TV”.

At the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, they don’t have a name for the Cash Cow, so they’ve named it “Project X”, with Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork telling Matt Hayes at SB Nation: “I think it’ll be every bit as big as the Big Ten”. And to start, they should be showing SEC games against Big Ten opponents, since the Big Eleven hasn’t exactly been able to win a lot of those games (you can always forget about Georgia vs Michigan State, though, which was a moral victory for the beauties in the crowd than the stunning collapse on the field).

And apparently, it’s going to be a ‘combination of SEC TV and Digital media’. Oh, OK. And it’ll be a on a subscription format that’ll be painfully expensive, until the fanbases complain and you’ll be able to subscribe to it on proper cable, because conferences got too greedy, too quickly.

THE BOTTOM LINE: We at the SEC Football Blog prefer another name: Project Dough. Why? Because that’s what it’s going to give every school after all the monies are divided up. Vanderbilt (and other schools) should really wait for their new expansions – the TV network’s going to pay for it, after all.

In fact, this whole thing’s so funny that I’m sure that there will be a special Storify about it soon…



Spring Meetings: SEC coaches vote in $300-per-game stipend

The SEC coaches might have just done something that could change the course of college football.

This tweet came from Scott Hood at Gamecock Central:

In case you missed it, Steve Spurrier told me last night the SEC coaches unanimously approved giving FB players $300 per game for expenses.

This isn’t just big news. This is massive news. This could mean that players are at least paid for playing – taking back some of the money that schools, clothing companies and other parties (yes, even college football blogs!) so happily take from them year in, year out.

Hood played this down slightly, saying it probably wouldn’t get through the Athletic Directors and Presidents:

Scott Hood ‏@ScottHood63The key question, though, is whether the ADs and presidents will approve it. Most people I’ve talked with this a.m. say no.

However, it’s been noted that this gesture from the coaches might just be that – a gesture, because it’s only the NCAA that can make that sort of decision.

Macon Telegraph reporter told SEC Football Blog’s Alex Haddon: “It’s just a PR gesture. NCAA would never approve one league paying players and others not.”

WHAT THIS MEANS: For now, this means nothing. But what it could really mean is EVERYTHING. Finally, someone’s taking a stand. The coaches in the most powerful conference in football want this to happen, it means that the stone is starting to roll. If the coaches and media can be keep up pressure on their ADs and presidents, something might make it happen and players get a deserved stipend. Let’s face it – it should have happened years ago….

Spring Meetings: While you’re waiting…

While you’re waiting for all the news to come out of today’s SEC Spring Meetings, we’ve got some stuff for you to read (some of it’s a little old, so you’ll have to excuse us):

1) What’s a bigger dump – College Station, TX or Gainseville, FL? Kevin Sumlin and Will Muschamp have their comments, hilariously discussed by Outkick The Coverage.

2) Michael Felder (In The Bleachers) and Barrett Sallee (Bleacher Report) arguing over whether high-profile recruit Robert Nkemdiche will go to LSU or Alabama.  We think he’ll go to Georgia, because of his uncle and the chance to start pretty much straight away.

3) Alex Ferguson (ViewfromAmerica) put together a Storify piece about Steve Spurrier being awesome at his Spring Meeting press conference. BTW, we love his beautiful seersucker shorts. And his quotes.

4) An insight from the lobby in the Sandestin Hilton in Florida. Stunningly for an in-house office, It’s actually well-written.  Check out the SECFootballBlog for all the highlights of yesterday’s play!

5) The Birmingham News asking whether LSU’s 21-0 loss was a cue for Les Miles to try and change things in his favour. We really do think that the Tiger’s running scared of Florida.

So there you go. If there’s anything else, let us know.


Tiger running scared? Miles not happy about Florida as permanent rival

The biggest news of the SEC Spring Meetings happened right at the end when news came out that LSU and Florida would be paired together for the forseeable future as ‘permanent’ SEC rivals as part of the new 6-1-1 scheduling.

One coach was happy about this.

One coach was not.

LSU’s Les Miles was the one NOT wearing the smile. He said at his press conference in Destin (according to the Palm Beach Post): “This is all based on some vague tradition that is not considering that you’re adding teams to the conference. Tell me about the tradition of the conference when you add teams to it.

He added: “I mean, Florida isn’t even a nearby state. This tradition of rivalry is the fact that we enjoy playing them.”

Will Muschamp, however, seemed to be happier about things. “I think it’s a good national game. It’s two great programs. And I do see Les’ reasoning in that, but at the end of the day I think … that’s the best route to take.”

The Palm Beach Post also noted that LSU and Florida had played each other for the last 41 seasons. Sorry Les, but if you’re going to ‘kick off’ a rivalry, you might as well have it in a game where the rivalry’s semi-permanent anyway.

THE BOTTOM LINE: We think it’s got something to do with the fact that the Tigers are 6-6 over the last 12 years against the Gators, and Les might just be scared that a loss to Florida will ruin his national title hopes. But that might just be us…

Recruiting News: DB picks USC

Ali Groves could have gone to Florida. Or to Vanderbilt. Or to Missouri. But instead, the Stephenson High defensive back chose Steve Spurrier and the University of South Carolina for his football career.

The biggest issue for him may be a neck fracture, which kept him out for most of the 2011 season. Having said that, he was cleared to play in December – rather like a certain SEC alum we all know – so should be fine come September.

Palmetto Sports said that linebacker Brandon Golson of Georgia Military Junior College may also come to Columbia as soon as this week.

It must be noted that Groves wasn’t offered by his two homestate universities – UGA or Georgia Tech – perhaps the neck injury really is a worry.

Stats-wise, he’s run a 4.41 40, and jumped a 32 inch vertical (he’s already 5 ft 10), according to Rivals.




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