Saban and Malzahn Disagree on SEC Scheduling

Huntsville, Ala. - (al.com) After a few years of debate, the structure of SEC football schedules will have a permanent solution soon.

Commissioner Mike Slive expects a format will be in place by early May.

Talk of a nine-game schedule and preservation of traditional cross-divisional rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee were discussed by SEC coaches in a meeting Tuesday.

“I don’t think there’s any support for that, it doesn’t seem like” Alabama coach Nick Sabansaid before a Crimson Caravan stop in Huntsville. “I think there’s a little bit more support for staying with an eight-game schedule and everybody playing a ninth opponent that’s in the five major conferences.

“My thing is I’m for playing nine conference games and still playing another team in the major conferences, so you play 10 games because of fan interest, people coming to games looking forward to seeing more good games.

“So that’s the starting point for me. I think it’s important for the players to be able to play more teams in the SEC East, on the other side, which we only get to play one now. I don’t know if we stay with the 6-1-1 or 6-0-2. I don’t know.”

No final decisions came out of this meeting on Tuesday. Slive said Monday he expects a schedule structure will be in place by early May.

Schools like LSU oppose the nine-game schedule idea, but its athletics directorrecently said he didn’t expect the formula to change.

“The ADs will not change their votes,” AD Joe Alleva told the Baton Rouge Advocate in March. “The only hope for change is for the (SEC) presidents to realize it’s not an equitable schedule. They have to have the foresight and wisdom to change it.”

The structure of the SEC schedule has been debated since the league added Missouri and Texas A&M before the 2012 season. One extra team in each division complicated matters since each school was required to play everyone on their side of the SEC.

Adding a ninth game would allow for the traditional cross-over rivalry games like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia. Getting a majority of SEC schools approve that model is proving difficult.

“People are going to have to make a decision knowing whatever decision they make, they are going to have advantages and disadvantages,” Slive said Monday.

Under the current format, schools play the six divisional teams, one traditional rival from the other side, and a rotating opponent from the other division. Before adding Texas A&M and Missouri, schools played two rotating opponents from the other division along with the traditional model.

Tuesday’s meeting was originally scheduled for February, Saban said, but was postponed by winter weather.

Other rule changes and the impact of the SEC Network was also discussed.

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