SEC Notebook: Football gets 10 minutes closer

Details continue to trickle out about the SEC's new TV package, with the latest being a small move up for the start time of the ESPN Regional over-the-air packag,e which will replace the Raycom package from last season.

Those games typically had a 12:30 kickoff, but that will now be at 12:21 ET instead. The hope is that the slightly earlier start will reduce the spillover effect into the 3:30 CBS broadcasts.

Thanks to ESPN's marketing team, fewer out-of-region Gator fans may need to shell out for the satellite package to see the early games this season. The Birmingham News reports there have been negotiations about the ESPN Regional package being shown on stations in areas like Houston, Dallas, Chicago and Detroit this year.


The SEC is currently evaluating its bowl situations for the coming years. Right now the conference has nine spots, counting only the automatic conference bid in the BCS. Since the conference almost always has two BCS schools, it can be tough to fill the final couple of bowl slots since having 10 teams reach eligibility is difficult.

The conference had reduced its slots, but then a 6-6 South Carolina team got squeezed out of the bowls in 2007 because of the rule that .500 teams can't fill at-large spots in bowls over teams with winning records. Now the issue is what order bowls will have in the selection process. Does the Capital One Bowl maintain its premium spot even though their stadium renovations have been shelved, or could the Chick Fil-A Bowl or Outback Bowl move up in the pecking order?

At the SEC meetings in Destin the buzz was that the conference will likely keep its same bowl relationships, but the Texas Bowl may be interested in trying to secure an SEC team again. They had been scheduled to potentially have an SEC team for a few years in the middle of the decade, but the conference never enough eligible teams to fill the slot.


Cost cutting mania is sweeping through college athletics, and even though the SEC is doing better than almost everyone else they could pick up some useful ideas in the process. One the SEC would be wise to look into emulating is from Conference USA. To reduce travel expenses, they're going to play both men's and women's basketball tournaments in the same city beginning with the coming season.

The two C-USA events will be played at different venues in Tulsa, but having them going on simultaneously will reduce the travel costs considerably. Fans can also support both of their school's teams, rather than the current unlikely prospect of women's squads getting much traveling support. The 2010 SEC men's basketball tournament is set for Nashville, but the women's site hasn't been selected yet. Why not play the women's event on campus at Vanderbilt beginning Wednesday prior to the men's games starting downtown the next day? It might boost attendance for the women's event while potentially getting more fans to stick around if one of their teams comes up short, and it should save some money to boot.

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