June 1, 2005

SEC coaches not looking forward to 12th game

DESTIN, Fla. -- SEC football fans have been elated to hear the news about the addition of a 12th regular season game. But most of the coaches in attendance at Tuesday's SEC Spring Meetings at the Sandestin Hilton were not as giddy.

The SEC is scheduled to have 12 games in a 13 week season beginning in 2006. Under the proposed changes, the 12th game would replace one of the two bye weeks that teams enjoy over the course of a season. Not all coaches are happy about this decision.

"I can't say that I'm in favor of it," said Florida's Urban Meyer, one of three new coaches making their first appearance at the SEC meetings. "I'm in it for the student-athlete, and I think we are starting to push the envelope too far."

Many coaches around the league echoed the sentiment of Meyer. Chief among concerns was that the stress is too great on athletes if they are expected to play 10 or 11 weeks in a row.

"It's interesting that we can find room for a 12th game but can't find room for a championship game after all the games are played," said Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks, a proponent of a "plus-one" scenario in deciding the national championship.

For all the displeasure with the added game, two coaches, Ole Miss' Ed Orgeron and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, are looking forward to the additional challenges.

"This is what the fans want and it provides more revenue for the program, so I'm excited about a 12th game," exclaimed Orgeron.

Still, one of the SEC's few veteran coaches, Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, offered a word of caution.

"He wanted in this league and we'll see if he says the same thing next season," said Tuberville, referring to Orgeron's comments and the difficulty of an SEC schedule.

Always with an eye on the cashbox, one group that is very much unanimous about adding a 12th game is the athletic directors of the 12 member institutions. This is understandable since the SEC, which has the highest average attendance for football games, has more than a few programs that reap three to four million dollars from every home game. The money from the 12th game can help universities fund non-revenue producing sports.

"This gives us an opportunity to help keep funding going for our other sports and keep improving on their facilities," said UF athletic director Jeremy Foley. "I was a big fan of the 12th game from the beginning."

Tuberville, having to be diplomatic more than ever after last season going undefeated and still being shut out of the National Championship game, has a solution.

"You start practices at the same time you do now and just start the first game a week earlier," said Tuberville. "That is fair for everybody."

Other topics from first day of spring meetings……..

• Instant replay will begin this season in the SEC and looks to follow the path of the Big 10. Last season, the Big 10 began an experimental system of instant replay that relied on an official in the press box to review questionable calls. According to SEC head official Bobby Gaston, the SEC will follow the same method next year.

"We still want the officiating to come from the field but will have someone able to oversee the officials," said Gaston. "The last thing we want to do is officiate the game from the booth."

Replays will used for determining touchdowns, first downs, catches, fumbles, and yard marking. The SEC will encourage their television partners to air a commercial while the play is being reviewed, according to Gaston.

Provided that replay does not significantly slow down the pace of the game, all 12 SEC head coaches were in favor of instant replay.

"As long as they get the calls correct, I think it is a good thing," added Meyer.

• The general feeling among the head coaches at Tuesday's meeting was in favor of releasing the coaches' final votes in the USAToday/ESPN coaches poll. American Football Coaches Association president Grant Teaff announced last week that the coachs' voting would be made public; a topic of much controversy last season after California was not ranked higher after beating Southern Miss by a slim margin.

"It will be interesting to see how some of these coaches start voting," said Spurrier with a coy grin. "I can tell you right now that in the first poll I'm going to give a vote to Duke if I even have a vote."

Quotes of the day

"That the rain will go away and the sun comes out!" - said Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley when asked what he would most like to see happen this week at the SEC meetings.

"Is that right? I remember when they (Auburn) were trying to fire him a couple of years ago." - said South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier when asked about coaching salaries and the report of Tommy Tuberville possibly making $3.6 million.

"If we don't start winning more games now that we are off probation, there will be a new face at Kentucky next year," said Kentucky head coach Rich Books about four new coaches in the league this season.




 

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