SEC Football: Is It Better to Start Spring Practice Early or Late?
It seems like just yesterday that Alabama finished off its thorough 42-14 domination of Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game, giving the SEC its seventh straight BCS title.
What's the second biggest sport in the south? Spring football, of course.
Spring practice won't begin in earnest until later in the month, but two teams—Georgia and Texas A&M—hit the practice field on Saturday, kicking off the spring practice sessions for the SEC teams.
SEC programs clearly have different methods to go about the spring madness.
While Georgia, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Tennessee kick things off early in the month, some programs will wait until incredibly late in the month. These include Mississippi State (March 21) and Auburn (March 27), according to the SEC.
There are a variety of reasons for altering the times and dates for spring practice. Some coaches like to get things finished in a hurry, so that any players that suffer injuries during the spring have a little more time to heal up before toe meets leather in the fall.
Meanwhile, others want to wait until the weather is a bit nicer to create a more "game-like" atmosphere.
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In true Gus Malzahn style, Auburn will cram 15 practices into three-and-a-half weeks, which is tied with Florida for the shortest span for spring practice in the SEC.
Talk about "hurry up, no huddle."
Coaches vary their preferences from year to year based on a variety of factors.
In his first season as Texas A&M's head coach last season, Kevin Sumlin's crew was the last team to kick off spring practice (March 31) and last to hold its spring game (April 28). This year is the exact opposite for the Aggies, which is a little shocking considering how much success they enjoyed in 2012.
So what's your preference? Obviously, the academic calendar and the timing of spring break plays a part in spring practice scheduling as well.
When would you schedule the start of spring practice?
Alabama and LSU, the last two SEC champs, started their spring practices in their conference championship seasons rather early in March; while Auburn got things started in late March when the Tigers took home the crown in 2010.
If it were up to me, I'd start a little bit later.
The weather is pretty nice during the first two months of the season, and replicating that atmosphere as much as possible is important—at least as far as scheduling goes. Cold weather does sometimes make players more susceptible to minor injuries, and the last thing a coach wants is for multiple players to be nursing pulled hamstrings all spring long.
If that happens, there really is no point.
It's nitpicky, no doubt. And as a writer who covers the entire conference, it's nice to have programs hitting the field on March 2, less than two months after the title game. However, if I'm a coach, I'd go with a true "spring practice" and get started just a bit later.
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