Happy Tuesday, everyone.
Today marks the kickoff of the annual SEC spring meetings, back in person for the first time since 2019 and, according to longtime SEC writers Matt Hayes and Tony Barnhart, they could mark the beginning of a sea change in college football.
But it all revolves around the potential singular movement – a paradigm change never seen in college sports – that will, at the very least, begin to grow legs this week: Stay with the rest of their partners in college sports, or separate and evolve into a singular behemoth?
Everyone is in Destin, and everyone knows the enormity of the moment. Coaches, athletic directors, faculty representatives, and most important, all 14 university presidents.
Decisions made here could change the way we think about college sports.
“This has been brewing for a while now,” another SEC AD told me. “(The Alliance) made their move, and now we’ll make ours.”
Sankey told Pete Thamel of ESPN that he will encourage his athletic directors to engage in “blue sky thinking which is you detach from reality. What are the full-range of possibilities? ”
One of those blue-sky thoughts would be for the SEC to consider having its own playoff when Texas and Oklahoma finally come on board, which right now is set for 2025
** – Could Texas and OU come earlier? The Big 12 has put together a deal that will bring Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, and BYU into the conference for the 2023 season.
You can bet that the flap between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher will be swept under the rug this week, with much bigger fish to fry. In addition to the “chicken game” with the rest of the Power Five as Hayes called it, there will also be discussions around divisions now that they are no longer required, and the nine game schedule will be revisited as two schools join the fray , possibly as soon as next year.
The Athletic’s college football staff seem to share an opinion that cooler heads will eventually prevail and the sport will stay as is, at least for now.
Andy Staples: What Allan sketched out is the logical end game to the SEC vs. All Y’all idea I wrote about in February after talking to a few people around the league. (No, this wasn’t a new concept even though some folks acted this week like it was.) But I still think it’s a leverage play. Sankey, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby were pretty furious about spending two years developing a plan that gave everyone something they needed only to have that plan scuttled by leagues being obstructionists for the sake of obstruction. Sankey does not sound like a person interested in trying to meet the needs of others when the next commissioners gather to discuss the next CFP arrangement.
This is the ultimate “I’ll take my ball and go home” threat. And a threat is all it appears to be.
Speaking of the Big 12, Vegas has Texas installed as a favorite to win that increasingly irrelevant league for Shehan Jeyarajah of CBS.
Worst Wager – Texas (+175): Not many programs could post its worst season from a first-year coach since 1937 and improve its title odds from last season. The Longhorns are no ordinary program. Granted, Texas brought in a star-studded recruiting class featuring former No. 1 quarterback Quinn Ewers and a handful of skill position talents to make for a talented room, but gaping holes at offensive line and on defense remain unanswered. After blowing multiple second-half leads in Steve Sarkisian’s debut, luck should start to take their side, but being the betting favorite to win the league is a bridge too far. Texas’ Big 12 odds are better than Cincinnati and USC’s odds to win their respective conferences, and nearly match Georgia’s chances to win the SEC.
Hey, hope it happens for Alabama’s strength of schedule, but many of Alabama’s early season victims end up having a rough season as they recover from the beating. I agree with Shehan that Baylor seems like the best bet.
Last, Brody Miller of The Athletic examines what should be considered a successful campaign in Brian Kelly’s first season at LSU.
Eight wins will not sound riveting to many considering the massive nature of the Kelly hire, but this is a program in transition. One should evaluate this season more on the culture changes and whether Kelly has this on the right track rather than whether the Tigers reach a New Year’s Six bowl. An eight-win season with hypothetical wins against Texas A&M, Arkansas and other big SEC foes means LSU is a top-25 team and in a respectable bowl game. It also means they’ll enter 2023 with a strong infrastructure for the rest of the Kelly era.
LSU is capable of winning nine or 10. They’re also capable of going 6-6 again. An 8-4 campaign would be a success.
That’s about it for now.
Have a great day.