SEC football coaches discuss future scheduling

semerson@macon.comApril 22, 2014 

Georgia head coach Mark Richt meeting with Florida's Will Muschamp prior to their game in 2013.

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GAINESVILLE - The debate over whether to go to a nine-game conference schedule is looming again for the SEC, whose coaches discussed the often-controversial subject at a meeting Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt said coaches talked more about the options, rather than argue over them.

"It was kind of like: Here's some possibilities, look them over and at least between now and then and try to figure out what you like," Richt said.

But as Richt pointed out, the vote ultimately comes down to the school presidents, and not the coaches. Of course the coaches could lobby their presidents, or at least their athletics directors.

"It may be I talk to Greg (McGarity, Georgia's A.D.), and Greg talks to him, sometimes we all talk together," Richt said.

Richt in the past has supported keeping the schedule at eight games. He declined to get into it again on Tuesday.

"I'm not gonna make a comment right now, because I don't know if I was supposed to," Richt said. "So I'm just gonna be quiet."

The SEC has said that the 2015 schedule, which has not been released yet, will remain eight games. But 2016 and beyond remains an open question.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban told reporters on Tuesday night that his takeaway from the meeting was there still wasn't much support for going to a nine-game schedule. Saban is the lone coach who voted for going to a nine-game schedule in an informal vote last year.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive told reporters in Birmingham on Tuesday that a decision would come prior to the late May annual meetings in Destin, Fla. But Richt's understanding was that it would get hammered out then.

Richt said the coaches didn't spend much time discussing the possibility that the five major power conferences, including the SEC, would be granted autonomy.

"Other than people thinking that's where things are moving," Richt said. "But no one said in no uncertain terms that's going to happen."

And apparently there wasn't much discussion of the since-abandoned plan to make offenses wait 10 seconds before running a play. In fact Richt thought the two coaches famously on opposite sides of the issue - Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Arkansas' Bret Bielema - sat very close together.

"There might have been one guy (in between them). It might've been Hugh Freeze in between," Richt said, smiling. "But that didn't seem to be a problem."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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