May 30th, 2012 09:13 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: ACC, Eastern Division, SEC, Western Division
Heading into this week’s SEC Meetings, it was well known that Steve Spurrier’s out-of-the-box proposal to not count cross-division games in the league’s standings would be the controversy of Destin. Not because it’s likely to become a reality, but because a) it involves Spurrier who always finds a way to make these get-togethers interesting and b) it’s so far outside of the darn box.
Indeed, it was an issue that media folks kept querying coaches about yesterday. Judging by the responses, battle lines have been drawn up already and one side seems to have more support than the other:
Spurrier: “I was thinking about the most fair conference I was ever in, the ACC, ’87, ’88, ’89. I think we only had eight teams and everybody played each other, so it was very simple. Whoever had the best record was the league champion and so forth. Now with the mega conferences, everybody can’t play everybody and sometimes scheduling might be the reason somebody wins the division or even the conference championship… (If cross-division games weren’t counted) Now, maybe winning a division is kind of like winning a conference championship.”
LSU’s Les Miles: “I want it to be fair. I don’t want to lock in an Eastern-Western Division opponent that historically has won the conference and that those games make a difference in how you fare in the East and in the West. You have to find the SEC champion the best way you can. You have to find the West and East division champions without regard to a crossover game. The best team in the West should play for the championship. The best team in the East should play for the championship. I think there’s a view of a loss in a crossover game that it could be detrimental and not allow the best team to come into the championship game.”
Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (who wasn’t as committed to the idea yesterday as he’d sounded earlier): “It’s something we need to at least look at. I want to hear everyone’s opinions on it.”
Alabama’s Nick Saban: “You’re going to minimize the importance of these cross-division games if you say they don’t count toward the championship. Then we’re really not an SEC. We’re really just an East and a West, so why would we even play the games?”
Florida’s Will Muschamp: “It’s hard for me to say that I could lose to an Eastern Division team and have that Eastern Division team lose to two Western Division teams and go play for the SEC title. That doesn’t make any sense to me. An SEC game should count as an SEC game.”
Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen: “I hate doing anything to devalue those league games because every game you play in this league is so critical and it’s such a competitive game against tough teams that you’d hate to devalue that game.”
Georgia’s Mark Richt: “If it gets changed, then good for him I guess this year. I don’t know if he’d feel that way every year. This year he’d probably feel good about it. I don’t think it’s going to change. I’ve always said for me personally tell me what the rules are at the beginning of the year and let’s go play by them. I’m used to what we do. My mind’s ingrained that every game counts. The reality is in our league play if you lose to somebody head to head or if you beat somebody head to head you’ve basically got a two game lead on that team. So there is an advantage to that still. It’s not like there is no advantage or difference.”
Commissioner Mike Slive: “I think that will be brought to the table for athletic directors to think about. It’s hard for me to think about a conference game that doesn’t count.”
We continue to point to one practical reason Spurrier’s proposal is likely doomed — it won’t be easy for the SEC to sell CBS and ESPN on carrying meaningless games while simultaneously asking them for more money.
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