0

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: SEC coaches discuss expansion; Auburn names starter at QB; NCAA nixes "Tiger Prowl" recruiting tactics

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt doesn't think the Southeastern Conference is in any rush to add teams.

He figures other power conferences are more likely to expand so they can have two six-team divisions and a league championship game, a la the SEC.

"There's some leagues that might be trying to get to that," Richt said on Thursday's SEC coaches teleconference. "That would make more sense to me than trying to get these super conferences. You don't get to play everybody when you do that. It's almost like two different leagues when you do that.

The SEC certainly didn't start the expansion talk, but commissioner Mike Slive has made it clear the league that has produced the last four BCS national champions in football won't let other conferences pass it up.

He said Monday that "we're not going to relinquish our role as one of the premier conferences."

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott indicated when he took the job last year he intended to look at expansion for the league, which is negotiating new TV deals early next year. The Big Ten announced in December it was considering expansion.

The SEC has lucrative TV deals and a thriving football championship game that generated $14.3 million in 2008. (Revenue from last year's game won't be released until the league's upcoming spring meetings.)

Alabama coach Nick Saban's team has played in the last two SEC title games, and he coached in the Big Ten at Michigan State.

"We did expansion years ago to get to 12 teams so we could have two divisions and a conference championship game," Saban said. "I think that format is great for college football. It's great for the fans. Our SEC championship game is a fantastic venue for our team to play in. But I also think, like when I was in the Big Ten we always talked about adding another team so we could get to 12 and make two divisions.

"I don't know the extent that people are talking about expansion. But if they're going to go to 16 teams, I think there would be a lot of people interested."

The SEC has, after all, won six Associated Press national titles since expanding to 12 teams in 1992.

"I think most of college football is looking for a format like we have, to allow for a championship game that allows them to ... play for postseason honors," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It will be interesting. I think it's always a difficult thing to expand and make the schedule fair. Hopefully it won't happen quickly in this league."

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson isn't dwelling on the issue much but figures the coaches will get an update from Slive soon.

"He's been on the forefront of just about everything as it came down the pike," Johnson said. "He was there for the TV contract with ESPN. He knows what's going on, and I trust that he'll let us know at spring meetings what he's thinking and what our situation is. It's a conference that would certainly attract some other schools if they're interested in tough competition. It'll be interesting to watch and see how it progresses."