The 2014 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings got underway on Tuesday in Destin, Florida, with Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, head football coach Will Muschamp and head basketball coach Billy Donovan all in attendance.
In addition to participating in league meetings, school representatives make themselves available to discuss a number of hot topics concerning the SEC and college sports nationwide. Below are some highlights from the first day of the SEC Spring Meetings.
NO MORE FCS OPPONENTS?
Strength of schedule has been a key issue for members of the power five conferences now that the College Football Playoff has been put into place. With the SEC deciding to stick at eight league games and mandate at least one opponent from those four other conferences beginning in 2017, SEC schools are looking for ways to make their schedules even stronger going forward.
Muschamp on Tuesday said seemingly matter-of-factly that Florida is “probably going to move forward without playing FCS opponents.” As it turns out, the Gators do not currently have one on deck past 2014. Foley appreciated Muschamp’s sentiment, which falls in line with a recent Big Ten mandate, but does not necessarily think it is feasible. “In a perfect world, you play all [FBS] schools,” he told the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson, “but you also have to have 12 opponents.”
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban agreed with both Muschamp and Foley, noting that he would ideally like to schedule all non-conference games against big-five league teams before conceding that it is much easier said than done. “We can’t just call people up and say, ‘We want to have a game.’ It’s not like setting up a golf game,” he said.
THREE PERMANENT OPPONENTS
SEC commissioner Mike Slive announced Tuesday that the men’s basketball schedule would remain at 18 games – eight short of a true round robin – but now include three permanent opponents (up from one) that play twice each per season.
Florida and Kentucky were matched up as permanent opponents for the 2013-14 season and will retain the same distinction. As for the other two permanent rivals? Tennessee would appear to be the most likely addition with the third completely up in the air.
SEC TOURNAMENT IN FLORIDA
The SEC Tournament for men’s basketball will be held in Florida for the third time ever (dating back to 1933) and second time since 2009 when it returns to Tampa in 2022, Slive announced. Nashville, Tennessee has locked up nine of the next 11 tournaments with the 2018 event set for St. Louis, Missouri.
SEC NETWORK DISTRIBUTION
With less than three months to go until the launch of the SEC Network, the league and ESPN only currently have distribution with AT&T U-Verse, Dish Network and Google Fiber. Slive is confident that fans across the country will be able to enjoy the channel as-is but does believe more cable and satellite companies will come on board.
“We can say to all of our fans and folks who are interested in the network that the network is now available to everybody. If your provider doesn’t provide the network, then if you switch to Dish, then you’ve got the network,” he said. “We’re in quality conversations with all of the other major distributors over the next few months and we remain optimistic that, at some point in time, we’ll have full distribution.”
— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) May 27, 2014