NO DECISION ON SCHEDULES: SEC athletics directors made no final decisions this week on future scheduling for all sports and anticipate additional meetings during the coming months, league spokesman Charles Bloom said.
The ADs met for seven hours in Nashville, not all related to scheduling. At the heart of the scheduling discussions is determining the best 14-team model in football for 2013 and beyond.
The SEC must decide whether to keep permanent partners from opposite divisions, how to schedule them if they're kept and if eight or nine conference games works best. There was not much support for nine SEC games entering the meeting, although at least two ADs wanted there to at least be a discussion. The ADs meet again next week in New Orleans at the SEC men's basketball tournament. (mrsec.com)
According to this Nielsen ratings report, viewership of college football games by conference in 2011 (September 1st through November 30th) stacked up as follows:
Rank Conference Average TV Viewers
Even SEC basketball - which usually receives shrugs when mentioned alongside the likes of the almighty ACC and Big East - pulls in the viewers. Here's how the leagues stacked up in 2011 (January 1st through March 13th):
- 1 SEC 4.44 million
- 2 Big Ten 3.26 million
- 3 ACC 2.65 million
- 4 Big 12 2.34 million
- 5 Pac-12 2.10 million
- 6 Big East 1.88 million
Rank Conference Average TV Viewers
The above charts should also make it clear why football was so much more important than basketball in all of the recent conference realignment shuffling.
Below, we add up the numbers and you can get a clearer sense of which leagues draw in the most viewers or their football and basketball games combined:
- 1 Big Ten 1.49 million
- 2 ACC 1.24 million
- 3 SEC 1.22 million
- 4 Big 12 1.06 million
- 5 Big East 1.04 million
- 6 Pac-10 (pre-expansion) .78 million
Football and Basketball Combined Viewership
Rank Conference Average TV Viewers
- 1 SEC 5.66 million
- 2 Big Ten 4.75 million
- 3 ACC 3.89 million
- 4 Big 12 3.40 million
- 5 Big East 2.92 million
- 6 Pac-12/Pac-10 2.88 million
* Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott did a great job in lining up a new, rich TV contract.
* Missouri and Texas A&M aren't blowing smoke when they say they're going to get a lot more exposure in the SEC than they did in the Big 12.
* The Big Ten - with its huge alumni bases and major metropolitan areas - is doing quite well especially with its own television network in tow.
OBAMA FAVORS PLAYOFFS: Fortunately for most fans of the sport, the "arrogance" of the powers-that-be in college football appears to be subsiding a bit, with some type of playoff likely in the offing beginning with the 2014 season. In light of this abrupt about-face toward the postseason, President Obama was asked by Bill Simmons of Grantland.com during his latest B.S. Report podcast - never thought I'd strings those words together in the same sentence - about the move toward a playoff in major college football.
While the President would prefer an eight-team playoff, he's OK with the four-team proposals that seem to have the most momentum and the greater likelihood of being implemented, at least initially.
BS: Tell me about the college football playoff system that you once upon a time pushed for.
Obama: Looks like - I hear there's talk that they're going to at least start maybe with a four-team playoff, which -
BS: So you're happy about this?
Obama: Well, I'd rather see it eight teams, but four is a good place to start. I think that gets us on the right trend. Nothing is more frustrating than at the end of the season, nobody knows who won. And what, there is some poll? Coaches make a decision? Nobody knows what that means. Because part of what makes sports great, part of what makes March Madness great, the NFL playoffs great, is every once in a while something happens during the playoffs that shows the character of a team.
Look at the Giants this year. Nobody would have picked them. They wouldn't have been crowned as champions if you had a coaches' poll at the end of the year. But they made the plays when it counted. (collegefootballtalk.com)
SEC FOOTBALL TEAM NEWS
ALABAMA: The University of Alabama's A-Day game will be televised live by CSS on April 14, the school announced Wednesday. Chris Stewart and Tyler Watts will call the annual scrimmage finale to spring practice, with Tom Roberts serving as sideline reporter.
A-Day will kick off at 2 p.m., and admission is free. Alabama has averaged more than 87,000 fans at A-Day over the last five years. Last year's school-record attendance of 92,310 led the nation by a large margin, with Nebraska checking in at No. 2 with a total of 66,784.
Although UA has not released a schedule for spring practice, the tentative start date is March 9, to be followed by spring break. UA is expected to return to the practice field on March 19. The NCAA allows 15 practices, including scrimmages, each spring. (al.com)
FLORIDA: The Southeastern Conference has been using a 5-1-2 scheduling format under which a team played all five teams in its division, one permanent opponent from the other division and two more teams from the opposite division on a rotating basis.
LSU's permanent opponent has been Florida, and athletic director Joe Alleva said both schools are interested in ending that scheduling staple. (theadvocate.com)
Speaking to the Baton Rouge Advocate Thursday, LSU A.D. Joe Alleva said that both his program and Jeremy Foley's in Gainesville are "interested in ending" (to use the Advocate's paraphrase) the Tigers' and Gators' annual cross-division rivalry game. LSU and Florida have met each year since 1971 and were designated as permanent cross-divisional rivals in the SEC's 1992 expansion.
Sources told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy Thursday, however, that Florida is not currently interested in canceling the series
LSU: On paper, LSU certainly seems to be the favorite to win the 2012 SEC crown. But, remember that no team has won back-to-back SEC titles since Tennessee in 1997-98. The 2009 Tim Tebow/Urban Meyer-led Florida team couldn't do it. The 2010 Mark Ingram/Nick Saban-led Alabama couldn't do it.
Now, we'll see if the 2012 Tigers squad can do it. Team chemistry must develop. Team leaders must step up. There is no doubt that the roster is loaded with talent.
Check out this list of returning all-SEC players - offensive tackle Chris Faulk, offensive tackle Alex Hurst, running back Spencer Ware, defensive end Barkevious Mingo, defensive end Sam Montgomery, cornerback/kick returner Tyrann Mathieu, safety Eric Reid, kicker Drew Alleman and punter Brad Wing.
Therefore, LSU has one of the best players in the SEC at nine of the 25 positions on the field, including special teams. So, the nucleus is there.
However, there are some concerns. Spring practice hopefully will provide some answers. On offense, three positions needed to be closely observed - tight end, quarterback and fullback. On defense, one area needs to be intently watched - secondary. (tigerbait.com)
MISSOURI: The final tumbler has finally clicked into place and Missouri has a completed 2012 football schedule. The Tigers announced this morning that Syracuse will visit Columbia on November 17th - the next-to-last weekend of the season. Goodbye, Kansas. Hello, Syracuse.
The Tigers will face a challenging schedule this fall and not just because they're jumping into the SEC. In addition to facing Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M from their own league, Mizzou will also host BCS-level nonconference games against the aforementioned Orange and the Sun Devils of Arizona State.
Southeastern Louisiana and Central Florida will fill out the slate. "This is a schedule that Tiger fans can be excited about," Gary Pinkel said via press release. "And we're very fortunate to be able to put such a quality group of opponents together given the challenging timetable we were faced with." (mrsec.com)
SOUTH CAROLINA: Two South Carolina football players have been reinstated to the squad after being handed indefinite suspensions last month. A South Carolina spokesperson announced the return of defensive tackle Byron Jerideau and safety Brison Williams yesterday.
Jerideau was suspended after being arrested for "traffic/pedestrian on a controlled access highway and disorderly/public disorderly conduct." In simpler terms, Jerideau walked out of a bar, into a street, stopped traffic and then cursed a police officer.
Williams had been suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team." (mrsec.com)
TENNESSEE: Tennessee coach Derek Dooley has faced significant turnover on his coaching staff this offseason. A month after that turnover was said to be finished, Dooley is yet facing another coaching hire to conduct.
Both Coachingsearch.com and The Knoxville News Sentinel are linking Vols DB coach Terry Joseph to the open secondary coach job at Nebraska that has become vacant with the departure of Corey Raymond to LSU. Raymond had previously said he had no interest in returning to his alma mater before bolting earlier this week.
Coachingsearch says they expect Joseph to accept the job, but the News Sentinel only states that Joseph has an offer, and whether or not he will accept is unknown. Joseph, a former assistant at Louisiana Tech, followed Dooley to Knoxville in 2010.
Eariler this month, Tennessee announced Derrick Ansley would be the Vols' new co-defensive backs coach. (coachingsearch.com)
ACC FOOTBALL NOTES
FLORIDA STATE: Coach Jimbo Fisher said that Terrence Brooks is currently the starter at safety opposite Lamarcus Joyner but that Karlos Williams is competing for the starting job. Fisher confirmed that they considered moving Williams to running back but that Williams wanted to compete for the starting job at safety.
Fisher said that Williams is weighing about 229 pounds. Williams was also wearing a soft cast on his right wrist, the one he broke that caused him to miss the bowl game. Other than any drills requiring him to put weight on his wrist, Williams was a full participant on Thursday.
Fisher also mentioned that Lamarcus Brutus would be working at safety in the spring.
Quarterback EJ Manuel was out at the fourth quarter drills, but was not participating fully. He was wearing a soft cast around his lower left leg, a product of fracturing his fibula in the bowl game. Fisher said that Manuel's injury is progressing nicely and he will be ready to go for spring practice on March 19.
Chris Thompson (back) was participating in drills, only taking periodic breaks to rest his back. Fisher complimented Thompson's progress and effort and said he never expected to have him back after the broken back he suffered against Wake Forest last season.
Nick Moody has put on about 20 pounds this offseason as he makes the move to linebacker. Fisher said that he's actually moving around better at the bigger weight. He also talked about how the safety position is becoming more of a coverage position and believes that Moody could be better suited at the next level as a LB given his big frame.
Fisher said that WR Kelvin Benjamin has dropped weight, is doing well in the classroom and is more agile than he was a season ago. Fisher said he's weighing somewhere in the 240 range.
Willie Haulstead was out at practice and participating fully. Fisher says Haulstead has no ill effects of the concussion that required Haulstead to miss the 2011 season. Haulstead also looks much different after cutting off his long dreadlocks
MIAMI: Quarterback Stephen Morris, the favorite to win the starting job for 2012, will not participate at all in spring practice, according to the Miami Hurricanes' pre-spring depth chart released Wednesday night. The depth chart lists Morris, who underwent offseason back surgery, linebacker Ramon Buchanan, defensive tackle Corey King and linebacker Nantambu-Akil Fentress out for spring. The 'Canes will start practice Saturday.
UM said Tuesday that Morris would be "limited" for spring ball. With Morris out, Memphis transfer Ryan Williams will start spring as the No. 1 quarterback, with Gray Crow No. 2 and Preston Dewey No. 3. Crow and Dewey are both early enrollee freshmen. After losing both a large senior class and a national-high eight NFL early entrants, second-year coach Al Golden will be breaking in new faces across the board. First, the good news: Projected starting quarterback Stephen Morris has game experience, though he's out this spring following back surgery. Also, last year's slew of NCAA suspensions allowed for several projected 2012 defensive starters to gain experience. And eight members of Golden's acclaimed 2012 recruiting class will get a head start this spring. Now, the bad news: The 'Canes are all but starting over at running back, receiver, defensive line and linebacker and lack depth on the offensive line. With such a massive rebuilding project, it will be interesting to see whether Golden goes all-in on the youth movement, relying heavily on his touted first- and second-year players. (canesport.com)