SEC officials vote to support 4 game playoff, falls behind Big Ten in $

Destin, Florida (WVLT-TV) Southeastern Conference officials voted to support a four game national playoff. The SEC has won the last six BCS titles.

As for the business side of the Conference, te SEC distributed $20.125 million per team in 2011-12; Big Ten distributed $24.6 million. Those figures come directly from the SEC's spring meetings Friday and financial figures shared by Illinois in mid-May, and are both for the 2011-2012 academic year.

What McMurphy's tweet doesn't explain is that the gap between the two conferences has only grown wider over the past two years. For 2010-2011, the SEC distributed $19.5 million per school--a record high, but still short of the Big Ten's $22.8 million.

Lined up side-by-side, the SEC has increased its per-team payouts by a little more than $600,000 from last year to this year, while the Big Ten has done so by $1.8 million. Percentage-wise, that's a 3 percent increase vs. a 7.9 percent increase--and in raw figures, a bump for the Big Ten three times that of the SEC. (For what it's worth, the Big 12 announced Friday that it's distributing some $19 million to its member schools.)

Those numbers might overstate the Big Ten's case a little, since after the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocketed in 2010-2011, they came back to earth somewhat in 2011-2012; according to the Illinois figures obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, per-team revenues from the BTN actually declined from $7.9 million to $7.2 million. The Big Ten has also not yet begun paying Nebraska its full share of the league revenues.

Even so, the BTN is still well above is profit levels from two to three years ago and is projected to continue growing, and their regular television contracts with ESPN, ABC, and CBS appear to have offered a substantially larger bump than the SEC's (this year, at least). Mike Slive's league is currently firmly behind Jim Delany's* from a financial standpoint, and -- with their current 15-year network-less television deals in place through 2023 -- would have been poised to only fall further behind without some kind of action.

Texas A&M and Missouri became that action, and the SEC is now well on its way to unveiling a network of its own--one that, along with a renegotiated base contract, will likely restore the SEC to financial parity with the Big Ten and Pac-12. And on the off-chance it doesn't? Slive's decision to pass on an SEC network three years ago will look even more misguided than it already does, and Delany's decision to have struck out in the other direction even better.

CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported Tuesday that the SEC would officially unveil its 6-1-1 scheduling model Friday. And though the three days since have seen that plan come under intense scrutiny and even outright opposition in the case of LSU, that's exactly what the SEC has done.

The announcement was first made by Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, via the Gators' official football Twitter feed:

Jeremy Foley said the 6-1-1 passed in the AD/presidents meeting.

The "6-1-1" means that each SEC team will play six divisional games, one permanent cross-division game, and one rotating cross-divisional game. The permanent cross-division game will allow for the continuation of the traditional Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, and LSU-Florida rivalries--whether LSU wanted it or not.

As expected, new SEC member Missouri will play nearby Arkansas as their permanent cross-division opponent, athletic director Mike Alden confirmed. Previous Razorback cross-division rival South Carolina will, as expected, pair off with Texas A&M.

Mississippi State will continue playing Kentucky and Ole Miss will continue its series with Vanderbilt.

However, the SEC has not yet approved the actual 2013 schedule or its scheduling rotation for the seasons beyond. Commissioner Mike Slive said there was no timetable for the schedule's release, though he said it would be completed "as soon as possible."

As expected (again), the league has approved rotating the second cross-division game every season, rather than the current home-and-home series in back-to-back years. SEC official Mark Womack said the initial rotations would be decided at random.

With six years needed to rotate through the complete opposite division once and then six more to play the return trips, the rotation would hypothetically need to be established for the following 12 years. But Slive said Friday the agreement on the 6-1-1 could expire in the relatively near future:

Slive says the 6-1-1 format is looking at a 3-4 year window for football scheduling. Several AD's expect it to be reviewed eventually.

Slive added that the format could be extended past that window, but that the league did not want to set anything in "concrete" beyond those three-to-four years.

This decision could leave the door open for the league to add a ninth conference game at the end of that window, since playing only three or four years on the one-year rotations would result in several cancelled return trips.

Nonetheless, Auburn president Jay Gogue said the league would likely review the 6-0-2 model again in the future, and added that Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina's annual nonconference rivalries had prohibited the addition of the ninth game.

Though the 6-1-1 model entered the SEC's spring meetings as a near-certainty to be approved, complaints from LSU athletic director Joe Alleva and coach Les Miles about their team's annual game against Florida -- and what Alleva called the "competitive inequity" it created -- led Mike Slive to admit Thursday that league had examined possible compromises on the issue.

But speculation that the league might postpone an announcement to further study those possibilities proved unfounded.
Tags: Mike Slive, Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU Tigers, Mississippi Rebels, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Vanderbilt Commodores, NCAAF


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