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Strength of schedule? That's built in SEC, says Les Miles

May 28, 2014

Auburn's Nick Marshall really made his move after playing LSU last season

By Charles Goldberg

DESTIN, Fla. -- Strength of schedule, somehow, somewhere, will play a factor in deciding the four teams that will play for the national championship. 

So… does playing a team from the FCS, the old Division I-AA, hurt an SEC team? 

LSU coach Les Miles said at the SEC spring meetings this week it shouldn't. He's playing Sam Houston State, for example, this season, and he's not apologizing. Things are tough enough already. 

"It's very difficult for me to buy that when we open with Wisconsin and play Alabama and Auburn every year. I'd have to think of strength of schedule would be beneficial to any teams that play in our league," Miles said. 

Miles said playing an FCS team doesn't hurt anybody. 

"I think the opportunity to play a variety of group of teams from a variety of locations should be open," he said. "I think the advantages for our players and theirs." 

LSU handed Auburn its only regular-season loss last season, a 35-21 setback in Baton Rouge. Coach Gus Malzahn said the Tigers showed resolved in the second half of that one, however, and that's when the Tigers made their run to the BCS title game. Auburn will try to settle that score when the Bengal Tigers visit Jordan-Hare Stadium on Oct. 4 in the fifth game of the season. 

That's why we care. 

Auburn plays an FCS team, too. The Tigers will play host to old friend Pat Sullivan and Samford the Saturday between playing Georgia and Alabama. 

Miles finds the SEC's new rotating conference schedule more interesting than FCS talk. 

"For us to get to Missouri on the road it’ll take 12 years. Think about that one," Miles said. 

"You still talk about whether you’re picking a champion correctly. Legitimately, people will argue about that. I think there’s a chance you would rotate two people through the schedule in six years, and then if you rotated three teams through, you’d do it in three years." 

Auburn is in a similar situation with Tennessee. The Tigers don't play in Knoxville again until 2025. 

Miles is a football philosopher and is not one to shy away from issues of the day. To wit: 

On the SEC, and four other major conferences, moving toward more autonomy in setting their own policy within the NCAA: 

"I think one thing we’re all pretty excited about is the five major conferences having an opportunity to have some direction to support our student athletes," Miles said. "These five conferences will hopefully be able to support their athletes at a little different level." 

On a proposed early signing period for football: 

"I think it’s a great idea. It’s all based on trying to serve the student athlete. If he’s grown up and he wants to go to LSU or Missouri or whatever and his father and mother have gone to school there, he’s been unofficially on your campus a bunch of times, then let’s give him an opportunity to sign early. Let’s not change the recruiting calendar and let’s not create a bunch of difficulty based on that. We’re really only trying to serve those men, those young guys that want to come to your school." 

Miles said the SEC football coaches voted unanimously for an early signing date of the first Monday after Thanksgiving. But some coaches, such as South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, said he's not in favor of early signing period. 

On adding a 10th on-the-field assistant coach:

"We would absolutely like that. If you look at the model that’s beneficial in coaching and recruiting, you ought to have an opportunity to add personnel. … We’ve talked about adding an assistant and I think those are things early in the future." 

 •Should SEC teams be allowed to sell alcohol on campus at games? Schools can't do that now. 

"I have no opinion on that. I just don't want the officials to be able to drink before." 

•On a move (Auburn alert) to slow fast-pace offenses with new rules: 

Miles said that was discussed "very briefly" in a Tuesday coaching meeting. 

"There are a variety of opinions of football right now. We acknowledged there were differences in the room."

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