Mike Slive has targets for SEC meetings

Proposal would limit signing class to 25 players

DESTIN, Fla. - For a second consecutive year, Lane Kiffin won't be here, so the entertainment around the elevators of the Sandestin Hilton doesn't promise to be as exciting at this year's installment of the SEC's spring meetings.

That doesn't mean the week won't go by without a little conflict among the league's most powerful coaches.

The topic of "roster management" sits at the top of the agenda for Tuesday's session with the conference's football coaches. There, it is promised that SEC commissioner Mike Slive will introduce legislation that could curb the unpopular practice of "grayshirting" and forced attrition by potentially limiting football coaches to 25 players per signing class - down from the current 28.

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, which learned of the potential legislation last week, Slive will propose that schools could only sign 25 players from Dec. 1 to Aug. 1. Currently, SEC teams can bring in a maximum of 28 players from National Signing Day to May 31, a span of time that has allowed coaches to expose a number of loopholes that provide the ability to bolster their roster with more than 28 players from one year to the next. It has also spawned and enhanced the practice of unexpected grayshirting, which forces a signed player to pay for his first semester of school before joining the team for the following season, and an inordinate amount of mysterious medical hardship waivers, which free up scholarships by relegating a player unfit to play for the remainder of his career.

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, to whom the recently imposed 28-player limit is credited because of his 37-man class in 2009, is understandably against the legislation, So, too, are South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and Alabama coach Nick Saban, while Georgia coach Mark Richt has been adamant in his stance that he will never grayshirt a player.

"These other coaches have been oversigning, trying to grayshirt, trying to make sure they never come up short of that 85 (scholarship limit) number," Richt said during a Georgia fan get-together in Greenville, S.C., earlier this month. "But in doing so have they done it in an ethical way, which is what you're asking. And I'd say not. That's why the NCAA is trying to change its rules."

Oversigning is far from being the only line of business on the agenda. Among the other topics to be discussed today through Friday are:

Basketball realignment

Last year, SEC West men's basketball coaches revoked a proposal that would have changed how the league seeds its end-of-season tournament. Instead of basing it around how the teams finish within their respective divisions, it would rank them simply by their conference record, which, in theory, would create a fairer playing field.

Now, it appears Slive wants to go one step farther.

The commissioner and coaches will toss around the idea of eliminating divisions altogether to mimic the current women's model. Also, there is a possibility that the league schedule will expand from 16 conference games to 18.

Staying out of trouble

Many scoffed at Slive when, at his first spring meetings as the league commissioner in 2003, laid out a goal to have the entire SEC off NCAA probation by 2008.

To the surprise of his doubters, it happened. But now, three years later, it appears a number of the league's schools are back in the NCAA's crosshairs.

Alabama is already under a probation sentence because of its text book scandal and Tennessee is expected to receive a minimum of two years after its meeting with the Committee on Infractions in June. There are on-going probes at LSU and Auburn, while Georgia and South Carolina both had to suspend players last season because of improper relationships with agents.

It might be time for a stern talking to, something Slive has been known to do on occasion.

Money, money, money

In 2010, SEC schools hauled in a record amount of funds because of the league's billion-dollar TV deal with ESPN and CBS, and the total isn't expected to decrease in 2011.

That's always good news for everyone, but there could be some that use this week's meetings as a platform to air concern. The SEC's contracts don't look so superior now that the Big 12 and Pac-12 have recently inked new deals that could potentially bring more money to their respective schools than the SEC's does for its institutions.

Everyone's making more money than they ever have. But everyone, especially the SEC's athletic directors and coaches, still wants to rake in the most cash.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 11

CoverOrange writes:

I agree with Richt, it's unethical. Make a promise then renege after plans were made. Surprised someone hasn't filed a lawsuit.

How did the SEC's West BB coaches "revoke" a proposal?

thevoice writes:

Minimum 2 years. Thanks Bruce.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to thevoice:

Minimum 2 years. Thanks Bruce.

Tell me how 3 years probation has affected Alabama football. Nada. Probation just means extra paperwork on the part of the AD, dotting i's and crossing t's.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Vols,

Speaking of nerds...............just everyone look at what this guy wrote about Andraya Carter's injury.........

CCLC writes:

A shrewd politician – which Mike Slive certainly is – knows you only pick the battles you know you can win. Pushing something which many most SEC coaches believe would amount to unilateral disarming in the recruiting wars ain’t one of those, even if you think that Saban and Nutt overstate their case. What Slive wants this week is a win-win, legislation that does in fact aid the kids without having much of an adverse impact on the programs. You may find that particular eye of the needle exceedingly narrow and you may very well be right, which is why all that may come out of the meetings is window dressing.

bosscat writes:

One aspect of reducing the number of players signed from 28 to 25 that is not being discussed but, you can bet, is very much in the mind of some coaches, Nick Satan on the top of the list, is that a 4 star or 5 star player sitting on Alabama's bench cannot be on the field as an opponent. Years ago when there were no limits a coach with the nickname "Bear" would sign 50+ players with that very philosophy. Reducing the number from 28 to 25 will free up not just 3 or more players but 3 or more 4-5 star players that would sign with other schools every year.

Colliervol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Tell me how 3 years probation has affected Alabama football. Nada. Probation just means extra paperwork on the part of the AD, dotting i's and crossing t's.

The probation period didn't hurt Bama. However, without a doubt, the scholarship limitations did. It took them a couple of years to dig out from under that and get the talent level back up. Fortunately in basketball, you don't need as many players. If we only get docked one scholarship, UT will be OK.

Colliervol writes:

in response to bosscat:

One aspect of reducing the number of players signed from 28 to 25 that is not being discussed but, you can bet, is very much in the mind of some coaches, Nick Satan on the top of the list, is that a 4 star or 5 star player sitting on Alabama's bench cannot be on the field as an opponent. Years ago when there were no limits a coach with the nickname "Bear" would sign 50+ players with that very philosophy. Reducing the number from 28 to 25 will free up not just 3 or more players but 3 or more 4-5 star players that would sign with other schools every year.

Yep. They might as well call this one The Saban Rule because it is directed at him. Houston Nutt and Ole Miss don't count. Nobody thinks about them anyway.

snoopbob87 writes:

Talking about subjects that need to be addressed? Pressure should be applied to Vandy to upgrade their football program or get out of the SEC. They are not bring the football team up to a competitive standard. Example, they have no Athletic Director and no plans to hire one. It seems to me they are low balling the rest of the league,

OwensboroVol writes:

I've made no secret that I don't like Mike Slive and think that he has supervised a drop in the abilities of the SEC Football officials which has lead to many disputed finals. He is another one trying so hard to make money that he has forgot what his job actually is. I think that he took a really cheap shot at Bruce Pearl in suspending him for 8 games before the NCAA had even decided what they were going to do. I believe the SEC achieves their successes in spite of Mike Slive rather than because of. With that said, I disagree on the 25 signing limit because SEC teams will always be short handed because not everyone you sign is going to qualify or make it to the school for some other reason.

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

I like the idea of 18 conference games in basketball and no divisions. I wish the football teams would go to 9 conference games and do away with East and West and have the 2 best overall teams play in the SEC championship game. In the 90s Tennessee and Florida would have had a rematch most every year

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