Eventually, everyone will have to compromise in some way. The SEC coaches probably won't get their top-four wish and probably will instead have to settle for three conference champs and a wildcard or some similar iteration. The coaches in other leagues probably will have to accept the fact that two SEC teams will eventually find a way to make the playoff. And even if Spurrier and Miles fail in their attempt to emphasize division records, they'll plant a seed of discord that could in a few years grow into a change in SEC scheduling philosophy. Of course, all this arguing may get wiped away by more shifts in conference membership. Though there seems to be no evidence to support his claim -- there wasn't this time last year, either -- Miles couldn't help but toss out a nugget that should stimulate message-board activity across the country. "It's very conceivable," Miles said, "they add another two [schools] in."
"People want to see the best four teams play in a playoff. The problem in college football is there's not equal parity in the leagues. Some leagues are stronger than others in different years. It's not always going to be where the SEC is stronger than another league. There's going to be years when other leagues are stronger than the SEC. It's not an SEC thing. History in recent years would say that, but that's how it's been all the way through. "I think you're going to get a lot of real complaining if we have a four-team playoff and we go through all this that we're going through to try to implement this and execute it and, all of a sudden, next year we have the No. 1 team, the No. 3 team, the No. 7 team and the No. 11 team being the four teams in the playoffs. There's going to be a mutiny on the ship, there's no question about that."
"I'm personally in favor of just the division games counting," Spurrier said Tuesday on the opening day of spring meetings. "I know some people are, several aren't. I was thinking about the most fair conference I was ever in was the ACC 1987-89. I think we only had eight teams and everybody played each other. It was very simple. Whoever had the best record was the league champion. Now with the megaconferences everybody can't play everybody. "Sometimes scheduling might be the reason you win a division or could even win a conference championship. I think it would be a way to continue some of the truly great rivalries in college football. The biggest one I think about is Tennessee and Alabama. They're in different divisions, and for Derek Dooley to play them every year that sort of hurts his chance to win the Eastern division because Alabama's been one of the best in the country year-in and year-out. The best thing for Tennessee to win their division is ... they'd probably like to play a lesser team than Alabama. "
Slive, who opposes Spurrier's idea of counting only divisional games, said the concept will be discussed by athletics directors this week. Slive said the SEC won't necessarily create a model for the next 12 years, as was reported today by CBSSports.com. "That's a long time," Slive said. "I'm not sure that's what we'll do." Said Alabama coach Nick Saban: "I just think there's no perfect way (to schedule). But I do think you're going to minimize the importance of cross-divisional games if they don't count toward the championship. Then we're really not an SEC. Then we're an East and a West so why would we even play the games?"
Not surprisingly, SEC football coaches overwhelmingly support choosing the four highest-ranked teams in the playoff no matter if those teams won their conference. "So now we're going to mess that up by saying you've got to be a conference champion," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Tuesday at the start of the SEC spring meetings. "I think somebody is a little bit self-absorbed in worrying about how it affects them and how they can best get somebody in the game all the time."
"Competition is not the issue," Miles said. "We welcome competition. But let's build a structure that is equitable for defining our conference champion." "Traditional games are important to our fans," Saban said. "All the games we play against conference opponents are important. And they should all count. If they don't count, why play them? If you do that, we aren't really a conference, just a couple of divisions." For the moment, the status quo is likely to count. But that won't stop Miles and Steve Spurrier from making the proposal for change. "We have some coaches who vote for good old-fashioned self-interest, strictly, 'What's best for my school?' and that's it," Miles said. "I might not be able to change that, but I am going to give it a shot."
"I want it to be fair," Miles said during the first day of the 2012 SEC spring meetings. "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." Basically, Miles said he doesn't want to see a team from the West play an Eastern Division team (or vice versa) that has historically succeeded every year and have it count toward the West race. He's not against having a tough crossover opponent. He just doesn't want it to count in the title race. "You have to find the SEC champion the best way you can," he said. "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."
Time is supposed to heal all wounds, but it appears that LSU football has scars that won't heal. The evidence has poured out of the mouths of everyone from the chancellor to the AD to the head football coach. How shaken has LSU been? The chancellor and AD don't want to play Florida every year anymore. If they do, the head football coach doesn't want it to count in the SEC standings. Next thing you know, defensive coordinator John Chavis will come out in favor of a ban on tackling and a switch to flag football.
"Now, don't get me wrong, some people would rather be at a place where you can win it all every year. Certainly Alabama, LSU, Florida ... there's a lot of schools that have that opportunity. But once something has already been accomplished, it's neat to do it again but it's not the first time ever. I look forward to still trying to do some first-time-ever things at South Carolina."
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier backtracked from comments he made earlier this year in which he appeared to take a shot at Alabama coach Nick Saban. In April, Spurrier told ESPN.com's Southeastern Conference blogger Chris Low that Saban needs to prove his greatness by winning big elsewhere. "If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they've always won there at Alabama," Spurrier told Low. At the time, many pointed out the strangeness of Spurrier's comments considering the fact that Saban won big at LSU, with two SEC titles and a national championship in 2003. Spurrier clarified his comments Tuesday at the opening day of SEC spring meetings. "No, he's a great coach. That wasn't what I was talking about," Spurrier said. "I was just saying, they won their 14th national championship this year, right? OK. ... One reason that I love being at South Carolina is we have so many opportunities to achieve things for the first time ever. Don't get me wrong, some people would rather be at a place where you can win it all every year.
Steve Spurrier, taking a break from selling his short-sighted and self-interested divisional play scheme, points out the flaws in that idea: The coaches poll is literally drenched in conflicts of interests and questionable voting. "Obviously, probably most of us vote for our conference guys and our buddies around the country," Spurrier said. "A coaches' vote is probably not as accurate as the media vote."
Balance and few mistakes were the key for No. 2 Alabama at Day 1 of the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championships on Tuesday, as the Crimson Tide didn't produce any flashy individual scores but was good enough to jump out to a three-stroke lead. Fourth-ranked Auburn is tied with Florida for second at 4-over behind the Crimson Tide, which fired a 1-over, 285 at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Birdies from freshman Justin Thomas and sophomore Bobby Wyatt on their final holes of the day gave the Crimson Tide a strong finish to the first of three rounds of stroke play. "This is a hard golf course and the guys just kind of hung in there," Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. "I was pleased with the way they were able to stay focused on the job at hand. Those two birdies are going to be huge at the end of this round."
Jazlyn Lunceford's recollection of the events of that night exactly three years ago are a little fuzzy. The Tuscaloosa County High School graduate doesn't really remember taking a batting helmet and a bat to step up to the plate as a pinch hitter at the Women's College World Series with the bases loaded. She doesn't remember taking the count to 2-2, and fouling off two pitches against defending national champion Arizona State. Lunceford, a freshman reserve outfielder for the University of Alabama softball team at the time, doesn't even recall the swing that drove the ball over the fence in right field at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium for a grand slam. "When I think back on it, all I really remember is celebrating and after," she said. "I don't really remember in the moment, details about it. I just remember celebrating with the team we had that year at home plate and after the game."
Crudup Jr., a backup quarterback to Ken Dorsey on Miami's 2002 BCS championship team, posted $500 bond and was detained for fewer than two hours. Crudup Jr. came to Alabama in 2010 after one year at nearby Stillman College, where he was the team's offensive coordinator. He first became acquainted with Alabama's coaches by helping out at various camps.
The great Jim Brown might not see anything outstanding in Trent Richardson, but the Browns office sure did. In fact, the name "Adrian Peterson" came up in the Browns offices when they were evaluating Richardson. The Browns acknowledge Peterson is a little faster, but they think Richardson is better in pass protection, and they believe he is one of the best backs to enter the league in quite awhile. The Browns love his versatility and plan on getting a lot of out of Richardson ASAP. They are not the only ones who think Richardson will be a quick study. Richardson’s presence does not mean the team is giving up on injury-prone Montario Hardesty, however. The hope is that Hardesty can stay on the field and give the Browns a pair of pounders.
It's clear that the SEC has dominated college football for the last several years, and a lot of that has been due to their outstanding defenses. Alabama and LSU's talent-laden squads last year were, of course, Exhibit A. Yet almost all of the rest of college football has been paced by offensive juggernauts like Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma State, and so on. Obviously whether the SEC's defense-led dominance can continue is really the most pertinent question in all of college football in terms of deciding who will be the next champion. But the complexion of the SEC itself has changed with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, two spread teams whose coaches have had lots of success on offense in the past, along with the up-tempo spread offense new coach Hugh Freeze is bringing to Ole Miss. All of those teams have weaknesses -- A&M appears to be the most talented, but we don't know if they have a quarterback -- so I'd be shocked if any of them actually won the SEC over the favorites. But it will be fascinating to see what kind of success, if any, they have this fall. And it will be even more fascinating to decipher whether that success or failure portends any changes, one way or the other, for the rest of college football.
According to the bowl agreement, if the SEC champion is playing for the national championship in a given year, the school at the bottom of the SEC standings will take their place in order to make the Big 12's loss all the more humiliating.