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New playoffs, early football signing kicked around by SEC

May 28, 2014

Cam Newton celebrates an Auburn touchdown on the way to the 2010 BCS national title

By Charles Goldberg

DESTIN, Fla.  The BCS was good to the SEC and Auburn. The league played in the last eight championship games. Auburn played in two of the last four. 

Good-bye, BCS. There's a new game in town. The new four-team playoff system begins this season with a champion being crowned in Arlington, Texas on Jan. 12. 

How big is that? Only this big to the championship executive director Bill Hancock: 

"I believe this is the most significant change in the history of college football. Certainly, the most significant change in the history of post-season football." 

Hancock knows a little about championships. He ran basketball's Final Four. He ran the BCS. 

Auburn played in the last BCS title game, losing to Florida State in January. The Tigers could be a contender for a national title run again as the NCAA is steamrolls toward a new playoff system.

"We're right on target with our planning," Hancock said. 

Talking playoffs are part of this Big Picture meetings here. There are few SEC-specific issues being discussed  "This is somewhat a routine Destin," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive  so the move toward autonomy by the power conferences is casting a long, national shadow, though the coaches voted for an early football signing period, but that is unlikely to be decided by the conference at this meeting. 

The league football coaches want autonomy, saying bigger programs should use their resources to take better care of student-athletes, something smaller schools can't afford to do. 

Slive said Tuesday the league's coaches have embraced autonomy "very enthusiastically." 

"I think they were delighted we were focused on the welfare of student-athletes," Slive said. 

He called the move toward autonomy the "cornerstone of our discussions." 

"It's the primary issue." 

Slive also said… 

The SEC has opposed an early football signing period in the past. LSU coach Les Miles said Tuesday that the league coaches voted unanimously for an early signing date of the first Monday after Thanksgiving. But the league's athletic directors haven't considered such a proposal. 

Slive said the league has formally opposed an early signing period twice. "And we were vocal opposing it." 

But "that doesn't mean we want support it" after further discussions, though he added there are negatives to the move that have to be considered. 

The SEC Network is moving smoothly toward its Aug. 14 launch date. Auburn-Arkansas will be one of the headline games the first weekend -- for ATT U-verse and Dish subscribers. Other providers haven't signed up. 

But Slive still says "the network is now available to everybody. If your a provider doesn't provide, if you switch to Dish, you've got the network." 

Slive said the league is in "quality conversation with the other distributors." 

"I'm optimistic that at some point and time we'll have full distribution." 

The league has awarded the men's basketball tournament to St. Louis for 2018 and to Tampa for 2022. Get your tickets early. Nashville will host the tournament the other years through 2025. 

The league will continue to play an 18-game conference basketball schedule, but now with three permanent opponents instead of one.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:
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