The SEC already decided on staying with the 6-1-1 model and added a legit non-conference game to add to the strength of schedule. But that doesn’t stop coaches from talking about it.
All 14 coaches were featured on yesterday’s teleconference, and they were all asked about their schedule preference.
The general consensus was that the vast majority of coaches wanted to keep the eight-game schedule. Nick Saban has been the only minority advocate for a nine-game schedule and remained that way until the bitter end. Mark Stoops was the only SEC coach to really have no preference on which format or how many conference games the league should have.
As evidenced by each’s comments, here is where every coach stood on the eight- or nine-game schedule proposal:
- Nick Saban, Alabama: Saban remained the minority voice for the nine-game schedule push. It would allow the conference to keep the permanent cross-divisional rivalries and add two more rotating cross-divisional games, which Saban liked because a four-year player could play all 14 schools.
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas: Being new to the league, Bielema didn’t allow much as far as the 6-1-1 model or the 6-0-2 model, but he basically said that if it’s not broke why fix it.
- Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: Mason hasn’t had time to say much regarding the eight- or nine-game schedule, but he added yesterday that he’s ‘comfortable’ with the eight-game schedule. He added, “In terms of where we sit, I think it allows us to put together a schedule that allows us to grow, get better. Let’s just see where the chips fall.”
- Will Muschamp, Florida: Muschamp wanted to stay at eight games, regardless of whether the conference had a permanent cross-divisional opponent or not.
- Gary Pinkel, Missouri: Pinkel talked about the ‘toughness’ of the league that eight games was the best option, whether it stayed with the 6-1-1 model or went to the 6-0-2 model.
- Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: Sumlin didn’t really allow many thoughts on the subject, but he added with the success of the league, why change? He also said it didn’t matter what he wanted anyway. “For me, after listening to other programs and the commissioner, there’s a lot of tradition in the league that would have had to change. …We didn’t really have a dog in that fight as far as long-standing cross-over rivalries.” Sumlin understood traditional rivalries are important to the SEC.
- Butch Jones, Tennessee: Jones was always in favor of keeping the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry alive, but he never voiced his approval of a nine-game schedule.
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn: Malzahn said yesterday he was in favor of an eight-game schedule, as well as maintaining the Auburn-Georgia rivalry.
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: Mullen didn’t voice much on the subject, but he did allow that with the success of the league overall, he can see why no change to the current schedule would be necessary.
- Mark Richt, Georgia: Richt was happy with the conference’s scheduling decision, and he wanted to keep the Auburn-Georgia rivalry alive. He added: “I think the game with Auburn is important to our people,” he said. “I think it’s important to the South as far as rivalries go.”
- Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: Freeze exclaimed yesterday the ‘fairest’ way to schedule would be for the league to have moved to the 6-0-2 model, but he primarily wanted to stay at eight conference games.
- Les Miles, LSU: Miles’ disgust with the decision has been well documented, and he was always the voice for removing the permanent cross-divisional rivalries.
- Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Spurrier has remained in favor of removing the permanent cross-divisional rivalries, and he added yesterday it was the ‘fairest’ option. But Spurrier also maintains nothing is fair about scheduling and said LSU was getting the worst deal.
- Mark Stoops, Kentucky: Stoops said the decision didn’t really matter to him and added, “The traditions of this league go a lot deeper than myself, so I really left that up to the leadership of our school.”
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