News, Notes and Analysis of the First Two Days of SEC Spring Meetings

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News, Notes and Analysis of the First Two Days of SEC Spring Meetings
USA Today

Between trips to the golf courses and white sand beaches of Destin, Florida, SEC coaches, athletic directors and officials are getting getting work done behind closed doors, as the annual spring meetings session is taking place this week at the SanDestin Hilton.

Unlike recent years, there's no realignment talk, no conference schedule debate and no news of heated discussions related to NCAA investigations going on behind those doors.

There is, however, plenty of talk centered around out-of-conference scheduling, early signing periods and rules issues that could shape the future of the conference. Here's a quick snapshot of the first two days in Destin.

 

Out-Of-Conference Scheduling

Just because the conference schedule is set in stone through 2025, that doesn't mean scheduling talk is off the docket. 

In fact, there's still plenty to discuss out of conference, including the status of FCS opponents.

Several big-name coaches have come out against scheduling FCS opponents in the future, including Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida's Will Muschamp, according to Tony Barnhart of CBS and SECSports.com:

That's a tricky prospect though. Sometimes it's hard to line up games that make sense from a competitive standpoint, and if a team already has a road out-of-conference game on the schedule, getting a home game—any home game—keeps that bottom line healthy.

USA TODAY Sports
Florida lost to Georgia Southern, then of FCS, in 2013

On top of that, the lower-level teams within the SEC footprint depend on those paycheck games to fund not just football, but other sports. There will be some pushback if there's ever a real movement to stop scheduling FCS opponents, and the decision-makers in college football know this.

On the other end of the nonconference spectrum, Georgia and Notre Dame seem to be coming close to finalizing a deal, according to Seth Emerson of Macon.com:

Whether it's as a neutral-site game or a home-and-home, which athletic director Greg McGarity stated could be the case, this matchup needs to happen.

 

Early Signing Period

The prospect of an early signing period has been bandied about for quite some time, but now it appears that the rubber is meeting the road.

USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen

SEC coaches were unanimous in their support for an early signing day to take place the Monday following Thanksgiving (the week of the SEC Championship Game), according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com. The early signing day would only apply to prospects who don't take official visits during the fall.

"To me the early signing is designed for a guy who knows where they want to go to school," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen told Marcello. "It alleviates the pressure for them to be able to sign, and all the other distractions in recruiting that come with it, and allow them to sign with that school and take all the other pressures off themselves."

Not so fast. 

According to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com, commissioner the SEC attempted to slow down the early signing day momentum a bit:

Ultimately, the coaches' vote doesn't matter.

This is an administrative decision alone, and while it might make sense to coaches, it probably would make more sense to the SEC if the entire conference, including coaches and administrators, were on the same page before seriously pushing for an early signing day.

 

That Pesky 10-Second Rule

The 10-second rule reared its ugly head again, only this time, it wasn't as contentious, according to George Schroeder of USA Today:

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who is on the opposite side of the 10-second debate as his hurry-up peers, played down the controversy, according to Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com:

This is how negotiations are supposed to go. You know, instead of being done behind closed doors without the input of the entire delegation at the coaches convention.

There could be a silver lining though, as this could lead to a rules committee formed within the SEC.

 

Looking Ahead

Is it too soon to start thinking about the opener?

David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin

Not for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin.

The third-year head coach of the Aggies isn't too happy about opening on the road in a conference game, according to ESPN.com's Ed Aschoff. He also knows that, when South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is quiet, that means trouble could be looming.

“A new challenge and we better get it going pretty quick because Coach Spurrier has been pretty quiet," Sumlin told Aschoff. "That means he thinks they’re pretty good. I’ve been around long enough to know that. He thinks they’re pretty good, and they are pretty good.” 

Spurrier isn't as focused on the opener, according to Josh Kendall of The State:

Let's be real, with Kelly Plantation just a few miles west of the hotel, there's a lot of people focusing on golf at the moment.

Phil Coale/Associated Press
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier

 

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