Roster management

The big issue at this week's SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., apparently will be "roster management." If so, it's about time.

Several programs in recent years apparently forgot that their primary concern is exposing the student-athlete to the total college experience, not exploiting him to win a few ball games.

Some schools signed more than the alloted 25 players to football scholarships, then unceremoniously dumped one or two in order to stay within the NCAA rules. One SEC school reportedly allowed a signee to attend summer school last year only to tell him in August that there was no room for him on the roster.

That's just one of several problem areas that need to be addressed in Destin. A few SEC coaches have run off dedicated but unproductive veteran players simply to make room for unproven signees. Several coaches have made creative use of the medical hardship and medical redshirt rules to free up scholarships or to extend a late-blooming player's career.

Commissioner Mike Slive addressed these areas in an interview with Tony Barnhart and Dave Baker aired live on SECsports.com earlier today.

"There's a lot of talk about oversigning and grayshirting - which is really deferred enrollment," Slive said. "We decided that, rather than trying to talk about each one of these things separately, we would take all of it and try to put it into some legislative format."

The commissioner said the topics on this week's agenda include early enrollment, deferred enrollment, national letter of intent, medical exemptions, summer school and possibly increasing financial aid. Those conversations will continue throughout the week, then school presidents and athletic directors will assemble Friday afternoon for the SEC's annual business meeting.

"At some point there will be a vote to see what SEC legislation should be and what legislation we would like to sponsor nationally at the NCAA," Slive said.

Hopefully, steps will be taken to stop overzealous coaches from gaining a competitive edge by manipulating the rules regarding roster limits, redshirting, grayshirting and medical hardships. These unethical actions do nothing to help college athletics and can do a lot to hurt college athletes.

NOTABLE: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia, who led the Gamecocks to the SEC East title last fall, is on track to rejoin the team.

Speaking with Barnhart and Baker, Spurrier was typically candid regarding his troubled QB.

"His problem was just doing some stupid things, really," the ol' ball coach. "He's got some guidelines he's got to follow if he's going to be a student athlete at South Carolina.

"He's trying. He's changed his lifestyle the last two months. We'll see if he can continue doing that."

Although Garcia also is suspended from school, Spurrier noted that the player "will be reinstated in August if all goes well."

NOVEL IDEA: Vanderbilt basketball coach Kevin Stallings has an interesting solution to the problem of finding opponents who won't hurt your team's Ratings Power Index: Schedule more SEC foes, fewer non-conference foes.

"I would be in favor of going to 22 league games," Stallings told Barnhart and Baker. "To me, non-conference scheduling has become so difficult. It's highway robbery now because people are asking you for $100,000 guarantees (to visit your arena) and things like that because they can get them. And, as soon as one person pays it, everybody else is expected to pay it."

Each SEC team currently plays a 16-game league schedule that features home-and-away tests against its five divisional foes and one game each with the six non-divisional foes. Stallings' plan would involve playing each of the other 11 schools once at home and once on the road.

"That would get non-conference scheduling under control a little bit but we won't do that," the Vandy coach said. "That would be a headache - for the coaches especially - because you already feel like you're beating your head against the wall with 16 league games, and if you added more, that would be crazy."

JANZEN UPDATE: If no news is good news, there is good news regarding All-SEC safety Janzen Jackson, who left Tennessee last winter to attend to what head coach Derek Dooley called "a personal matter."

Relying on the same wording he used all spring, Dooley says he is "hopeful" Jackson will return to school and that he is "on track" to rejoin the program in time for preseason drills in August.

BEST QUIP: New Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson had probably the best line of the day. When asked if he'll bring back the "Forty Minutes of Hell" popularized by former Hog head man Nolan Richardson, Anderson replied: "I tell people that, with this kind of ball, it might be 25 minutes of hell and 15 minutes of what the hell are we doing?'"


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