DESTIN, Fla. — No one has a greater appreciation for the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry than new Alabama athletic director Bill Battle, who played for the Tide and coached Tennessee.
“The Alabama-Tennessee game means a lot to a lot of people,” Battle said at the SEC spring meetings, which ended Friday. “I’ve been on both sides of it.
“People on both sides feel the same. There’s great respect for the history and the tradition.”
Battle’s struggle against Alabama weighed heavily against him when he was fired as UT’s coach in 1976 after seven years. He won his first game against the Tide but lost the next six.
SEC Bowl Ties: The conference is renegotiating seven of its eight bowl contracts. The Sugar Bowl is the only exception.
The SEC will lose its alliances with the Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls after this year, leaving it with eight bowl tie-ins.
The conference likely will align itself with two more bowls after this year. The Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston are possibilities based on the league’s regional preference.
Ranking Matters: Most coaches say they don’t pay attention to recruiting services. Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze isn’t one of them.
“It’s almost like you’re playing another game and you want to win,” said Freeze, whose last class was ranked fifth nationally.
“It means something to fans. It means something to the media. It means something nationally.
“Does it ultimately mean anything? I think we’ll know in two years.”
QB Friendly: Auburn hasn’t decided on its starting quarterback for this fall. But first-year coach Gus Malzahn is confident one of the candidates will be successful in his system.
“We’ve had a lot of different quarterbacks, seven in seven years,” said Malzahn, who coached Arkansas State last season. “Some were throwers; some were runners.
“In (Cam Newton’s) case (when Malzahn was Auburn’s offensive coordinator), he could do it all. But we’ve had success with a lot of different quarterbacks.”
The candidates include Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier, who both have starting experience; junior college transfer Nick Marshall; and freshman Jeremy Johnson. Marshall and Johnson will join the Tigers in the fall.
Meeting In Session: Battle was asked to compare his new position with his long career as a successful businessman.
“In the last four weeks, I’ve been in more meetings than I have in the last 20 years,” said the founder of The Collegiate Licensing Company.
Basketball Sites: St. Louis (2017), Tampa (2018) and Atlanta (2020) are expected to fill the holes to host future men’s basketball tournaments.
The SEC wants to narrow its locations down to a primary spot. Nashville is hosting the event in 2015, 2016 and 2019.