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Scheduling a hot topic for commissioner Slive at SEC Spring Meetings

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SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said Tuesday that there will be a "healthy discussion" about schedule changes during the Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla. this week. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said Tuesday that there will be a "healthy discussion" about schedule changes during the Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla. this week.

By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com

DESTIN, Fla. — SEC commissioner Mike Slive says the league could announce its 2014 league football schedule this week or "very shortly thereafter," but what happens to conference schedules down the road is still open to discussion. 

Scheduling was a hot and unresolved topic when he met with football coaches and athletic directors Tuesday on the first day of the SEC spring meetings. Two of the things discussed were adding a ninth conference game and whether to stay with a 6-1-1 league schedule that protects rivalry games such as Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. Both long-standing cross-division games could be jeopardy should the league change its format. Slive said the 6-1-1 format is in place for 2013 and 2014 and "probably" for 2015. 

Auburn's Gus Malzahn is in favor of maintaining an eight-game conference schedule. That's likely the majority opinion among the coaches, but it's not unanimous. Georgia's Mark Richt said Tuesday he's in favor of protecting the Auburn-Georgia rivalry. 

Read:  Alabama's Nick Saban calls for 9-game league schedule

Slive says there was a "healthy discussion" about changes and said there would be "discussions  tomorrow and through the week." 

But, he added, "I certainly don't believe we'll come to any closure here." 

But a ninth conference game has been a hot topic, anyway. 

"I've been opened minded about what we ought to do," Slive said. "It's just one of the options on the table." 

The 2013 and 2014 conference schedules will maintain the 6-1-1 format in which each team plays every team in its division, plus one permanent and one rotating opponent from the other division. 

"The discussion about that format, and any possible formats, is a conversation that is under way," Slive said. "We'll leave here with that format, but I think there will be a lot of discussion at all levels about whether that format will continue. 

"Scheduling is a collection of different elements, and each one of these elements has to be analyzed, dissected, thought about."

Separately, Slive said he would explore a "primary" site for the men's basketball tournament, or something similar to the permanent sites for the football championship in Atlanta and the baseball championship in Hoover. 

He also said the league will review non-conference schedules in men's basketball. He said the move would be helpful to schools as they build their RPIs and "helpful to us" as a league.

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