SEC Spring Meetings Will Bring Changes

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

The Southeastern Conference held its spring meetings this week. Coaches, athletic directors and college presidents made their annual pilgrimage to Destin, Florida, with several items on the agenda. All anyone could talk about on day one was where the coaches Jimbo Fisherman and Nick Saban have been placed on the floor plan. Although the two had traded beards recently, there was no chance of a WWE free-for-all.

The real Royal Rumble will take place on the grill this fall rather than in a boardroom this spring. The public comments attributed to the two coaches may be well placed, but they didn’t have to be thrown into the public vernacular. With that pettiness aside, the league had important matters to discuss.

Perhaps the only thing the SEC can agree on in time is the football scheduling protocol moving forward. While Oklahoma and Texas are expected to join the league in coming years, the SEC is expected to adopt a one-division format. The SEC has been split into an east vs. west format since Roy Kramer created the SEC title game in 1992.

There are two possibilities for future schedules, it seems. Some schools are proponents of the 1-7 rotation. This would lock in a permanent opponent, while the others rotate. In the case of Mississippi State, that likely means Ole Miss as an annual opponent.

Some league members prefer a 3-6 format. That would drop the number of conference games from eight to nine. It would also allow schools like Alabama that have more than one regular rival to continue these series on an annual basis. Some viewers think nine conference games would better the league-record TV contract.

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A downside to this idea is that teams like Mississippi State often need those four non-conference games to reach bowl eligibility. With fewer teams making bowl games, the SEC purse won’t be as substantial as it could be. One wonders if additional TV revenue could offset these potential losses.

There were also discussions about potential NIL legislation, the NCAA transfer portal and the possibility of funding more scholarships for equivalency sports. While SEC members may find common ground, these issues impact college athletics as a whole. There will be discussions at the national level on these sensitive topics in the coming weeks. August could bring new legislation regarding all three issues. All are complicated and all have the potential to change college athletics forever. Change is coming. It remains to be seen who benefits from this change.