SEC has Plenty to Meet About

DESTIN - The SEC opens its annual Spring meetings here Tuesday with much to be excited about. The conference has won the past three BCS titles and will almost certainly open the year with Florida as the nation's No. 1 team and favorite to win the title again.

The hiring of John Calipari at Kentucky has reignited national interest in what is traditionally the SEC's showcase basketball program. The new ESPN and CBS TV deals are about to make all 12 programs even richer while greatly expanding the league's national exposure. Not everything is sunshine and lollipops for the SEC right now though, which should make the next few days very newsworthy. Here are some of the more interesting stories reporters will be looking into....


Ever since Lane Kiffin arrived as Tennessee's head coach, he's been stirring up attention for his program. The kid who ate paste in kindergarten got attention, too. Kiffin's attempted and inaccurate public takedown of Urban Meyer was his most publicized episode, but his alleged "pumping gas" remark about players who go to South Carolina as well as his bragging about stealing recruits and coaches from other SEC schools and multiple secondary violations have made him perhaps the league's most high profile figure the past few months. Now he has to sit face-to-face in a room with his fellow coaches. The reception from them should be considerably chillier than the temperature on the beach here in Destin.


While he was entering politics, Ronald Reagan famously added a personal 11th commandment to the existing set - "thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican". Thanks in large part to the controversies Kiffin has stirred up, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is expected to advocate the same concept for his football coaches. The SEC has largely fulfilled Slive's goal of having all programs off probation, and he doesn't want public battles between coaches dirtying up its image anew. Whether it will be formally expressed in some fashion or not, the message from Slive to the coaches will be clear: knock it off.


While estimates have every SEC school likely to make $6 million more per year as a result of the new TV deals, there are still lots of details to work through. It was announced last week that CSS, a cable network with distribution to only certain areas of SEC country, had been given rights to six football and 20 basketball games a year in a deal with ESPN. Will those games also be available somehow to fans in areas which don't get CSS (which is unavailable on satellite dishes)? If not, will there be an effort to make sure the games assigned to CSS involve schools whose home fanbases can see it? Does ESPN have any more details about it's plans for an SEC Game of the Week on ESPNU or the 12:30 over the air package? Are they looking to do any other sub-deals with regional networks?


Every conference seems to be coming out with a string of financial belt tightening ideas, and the SEC is expected to be no different. On the agenda for sure is a discussion about getting rid of printed media guides, but there will be many other ideas floated. The conference also has to decide how it feels about ideas from other leagues, including allowing official visits by prospects in June and an early signing period in football as well as limiting roster sizes and travel parties for road games.

Other items likely to be discussed include the conference's bowl slate, possible adjustments to the format of the SEC baseball tournament, and the official word on how much money exactly the schools will have distributed to them by the conference this year.

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