SEC presidents set to make playoff stance official

semerson@macon.comMay 31, 2012 

DESTIN, Fla. -- SEC presidents are expected to tackle two major topics as their annual meetings wrap up Friday. But the outcomes are fairly predictable.

First, they will formulate an official SEC position on the football playoff. There is plenty of agreement in the room, with the presidents supporting a four-team playoff, with semifinals played within the bowl system and the four best teams being picked, rather than four conference champions.

Florida’s Bernie Machen, the chair of the SEC presidents council, said he would “be amazed” if that isn’t the conference’s position. He also believes the SEC’s position on how the four teams are selected will win out.

“I think that’s what the public wants. So I think everyone is going to have to come to us on that,” Machen said Thursday.

There is a little more uncertainty about the other topic: future football schedules. But Machen also believes a 6-1-1 format will be adopted, as do most other people polled Thursday. That’s six intra-division games, one against a permanent cross-division rival and one against a rotating opponent.

“You can draw up other scenarios. But I’d say for right now that one (as 6-1-1) is fine,” Machen said. “Some people don’t like how we got the East-West divided up. Let’s see how it works. In the end, it’s one conference. Look at basketball. They’ve essentially put it all together.”

The presidents also are expected to approve new scheduling formats for men’s basketball: The 18-game regular season will feature one permanent rival and four rotating opponents; the tournament will have a double-bye for the top four seeds and a single bye for the next six seeds.

Georgia’s permanent rival in men’s basketball is expected to be South Carolina. That’s over the objections of head coach Mark Fox, who preferred Florida or Auburn.

The good news for the Bulldogs is the plan would only be for the next three years and then be revisited.

Missouri invades Atlanta

One of the conference’s newest schools, Missouri, is holding an event in Atlanta next month. But the Tigers already are forming a presence in Georgia. They recently posted billboards along the Atlanta highways.

It’s part marketing, but also part recruiting, head football coach Gary Pinkel said.

“We still want to maintain our ties in Texas, because we feel we’ve earned that. But also getting into Florida, getting into Atlanta, getting into south Georgia. Those areas,” Pinkel said. “We have coaches there now. We’re starting to market that. There’s a marketing side to this transition. That’s another story. And I think it’ll take a couple years for it to sort out a little bit.”

Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he had seen “a couple” of those Missouri billboards in Atlanta. He understands why the Tigers would seek a footprint there, but he also said Georgia would look into Missouri and Texas.

“This spring, we’ll probably be in Texas a little more than we would have been in the past,” Richt said. “We’ll re-evaluate, too.”

Ohio State games cancelled

Georgia and Ohio State will not be playing in football -- at least in the regular season -- after all.

Ohio State has canceled the series, which was planned for 2020 and 2021, “due to the Big Ten-Pac 12 game that was added recently,” UGA athletics director Greg McGarity said Thursday.

Georgia’s non-conference scheduling in general is on hold, waiting for the SEC schedule to be hashed out.

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