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Old 03-06-2012, 02:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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SEC (at least) discussed a 9-game schedule

Last week at the women's tournament in Nashville. (sorry this is a few days late).

SEC will discuss switching to nine football games, but there's not much initial support | al.com

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The SEC scrambled to create a 2012 football schedule. Now come the harder, long-term questions from 14 different perspectives.

SEC athletics directors meet Wednesday in Nashville to discuss future scheduling options in many sports, especially football. They will discuss going to nine SEC football games, although there's not much initial support.

"I think everything has to be on the table, including playing nine games, which I know terrifies some people when you say it," Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart said. "I do want to talk about nine games."

Discussions probably will focus on the number of SEC games, whether to keep permanent partners from opposite divisions, and if so, how to schedule them, said Larry Templeton, chairman of the SEC transition committee. The SEC has not decided how long it wants the next scheduling plan, starting in 2013, to last.

The ADs will review six or seven formats during Wednesday's work session, and Templeton didn't rule out a vote. They meet again next week at the SEC men's basketball tournament.

At least one AD, Mississippi State's Scott Stricklin, believes the SEC must be creative in scheduling for 14 members, noting that the league's predecessors developed a model in the early 1990s so that teams played each other more often.

"I think the fans enjoyed it and it served its purpose really well," Stricklin said. "They didn't get stuck in the past."

The challenge becomes how to move the SEC forward into a new era while preserving the past and building consensus.

"There's no easy solution, unfortunately," Georgia AD Greg McGarity said. "There are so many moving pieces that there will be some lively discussions."

The SEC agreed to play eight games with a 6-1-1 model for at least 2012. That means a team plays six divisional games, one permanent cross-division opponent and one rotating cross-division team.

The model protects Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia annually, but means it would take 12 years to play every team from the other division, compared to five years now. Fans and TV may frown on more infrequent high-profile games.

McGarity said most SEC ADs and coaches want to stick with eight games, but he supports at least discussing nine games.

"Many SEC fans have a decision whether to come to our game, or sit at home in front of their 60-inch HDTV," McGarity said. "Would they be more likely to come to a conference game as opposed to a guaranteed (nonconference) game? I'd probably say yes."

They're expected to discuss future scheduling again at the men's tournament in New Orleans.
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Old 03-06-2012, 02:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Also an opinion piece on the matter (bit of a read though)


SEC ADs Will Discuss a 9-Game Schedule; Slive Needs to Push It Past Cowards

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If you’ve read MrSEC.com for anytime now, you know full well that we believe the SEC needs to go to a nine-game conference football schedule and that it eventually will do just that.

We’ve listed the reasons for such a move dozens of times:

1.* Another SEC game means more value for ticket-buying fans.

2.* The league’s television partners would prefer SEC versus SEC over SEC versus pansy any day of the week.

3.* A nine-game slate allows the best of both worlds — three of the league’s oldest rivalries (Auburn-Georgia, Alabama-Tennessee, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt) would be saved and teams would continue to rotate two cross-divisional foes per year… meaning schools would play each other more often.* (Again, that’s something TV execs would favor.)

4.* A nine-game schedule would decrease the chances of a school like Georgia in 2011 missing all three of the best teams from the other division.

5.* Such a plan would result in more inventory for a potential SEC television network down the road.

6.* Fears of “we’ll play four home games while they play five” have been wildy overstated.* The four/five, home/road advantage would flip every season.* And there are inadequacies in the current system anyway.* While everyone plays four home and four road games per year now, some play easier road schedules than others.* That’s part of any schedule rotation, so the move to a four-this-year, five-next-year plan is not that big of a change.

7.* Cries that schools might be forced to play just six home dates in a season are overblown as well.* Before the NCAA moved to a 12-game football schedule in the past decade, schools often played six or seven home games rather than the current seven or eight.* More importantly, the cash rolling in from CBS and ESPN — and that money which will go up with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M would go up even further with more SEC versus SEC contests — easily covers the loss of one home date every other year.* Easily.

8.* Perhaps most importantly, the league would hurt itself rather than help itself by softening its schedule.* Other leagues are making their schedules tougher.* The Big 12 is playing a nine-game slate.* The ACC will move to a nine-game plan when Syracuse and Pittsburgh enter that league.* Big Ten and Pac-12 teams will begin playing on a yearly basis on top of their current in-conference schedules in 2017.* The other major conferences are all guaranteeing themselves more BCS-level opponents per season.* If the SEC sticks with an eight-game plan, all the anti-SEC’ers out there will finally have a reason to vote down the league in future polls.* No longer will the SEC be a mini-NFL.* Oh, coaches will tell you that eight SEC games are harder than nine BCS games in other leagues, but folks outside the South won’t buy it.* You can be sure of that.
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Quite simply, the only reason not to go to a nine-game slate is pure cowardice.

And cowardice is not a word traditionally associated with the Southeastern Conference.* Mike Slive, it’s time to step up and lead.
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Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News reports today that the SEC’s athletic directors — who will meet at both the women’s basketball tournament this week and the men’s tourney next week — will indeed discuss a nine-game plan.* But there’s no real support for such a plan from the ADs or the league’s football coaches at the moment.

Of course.

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart — an Alabama grad and employee before joining the UT — is one of those ready to talk about a nine-game plan.* Naturally, he wants to save the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry.* And while some fans across the SEC don’t care that Tide-Vols is traditionally the league’s top game played between the two programs with the most SEC titles in history, Hart is right to fight for it.

“I think everything has to be on the table, including playing nine games, which I know terrifies some people when you say it.* I do want to talk about nine games.”

Georgia’s Greg McGarity — who no doubt wants to protect the Auburn-UGA game which is the oldest rivalry in the Deep South — is also in favor of discussing a nine-game plan.

“Many SEC fans have a decision whether to come to our game, or sit at home in front of their 60-inch HDTV.* Would they be more likely to come to a conference game as opposed to a guaranteed (nonconference) game?* I’d probably say yes.”
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Solomon goes onto run through the various views of many anti-nine-game ADs as well.

Unfortunately, those ADs should not be allowed to have the final say.

Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin admits that he’s against a nine-game plan because it might keep State out of a bowl game.* In other words, “We need a steady diet of creampuffs and cupcakes if we’re going to claim to be good.”* This fall, State’s nonconference slate is as follows: Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama and Middle Tennessee State.* In essence, MSU is already 4-0 and need only go 2-6 in the SEC — as it did last year — to reach a bowl.

Cowardice.

Kentucky has mastered the art of the weak nonconference slate as well.* Their recent rejuvenation under Rich Brooks was aided immensely by Louisville’s downturn and three lay-up nonconerence games per season.

Again, cowardice.

Just last season, in order to protest bowl eligibility, Tennessee bought its way out of a game at North Carolina and replaced the Tar Heels with a home date against Buffalo.

Sporting karma took effect and kept the Vols from going bowling even with a win over a miserable Buffalo squad on their resume.
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Slive has shown in the past that he has the ability to steer the league’s presidents in the right direction.* When the coaches and ADs whined that they needed the ability to sign 37 players per season, Slive and his presidents unanimously overruled them and upped their league’s reputation nationally in the process.

When the coaches yelped over proposed multi-year scholarships, again it was Slive who convinced 3/4s of the league’s presidents to overrule their coaches and do what was right by the student-athlete.* Again, the SEC’s reputation was aided.

Now, Slive must act again.* This decision on scheduling is too big, too important, and worth way too much money to be left to coaches and athletic directors who have only their own self-interests at heart.* This isn’t about individual schools, it’s about the league as a whole.* And when the league rises, all the schools rise.
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We’ve been down this road before in the Southeastern Conference.* In 1992, then-commissioner Roy Kramer and the SEC presidents voted to expand their league by two, increase the number of conference games from seven to eight, and to add a first-of-its-kind championship game.

Coaches moaned that the league would never win another national crown.* Proving the coaches’ inability to understand anything beyond the gridiron, Alabama won the national title in that very first year.* Florida followed in 1996.* Tennessee in ’98.* LSU in ’03.* And now the SEC is riding a six-title streak that’s unmatched in the history of college football.* Hell, two SEC teams played one another for the crown last month.

But if Kramer had allowed his coaches and ADs to decide the league’s fate in 1992, you can bet your hindquarters that there would have been no expansion, no eighth conference game and no SEC title game.

As a result, the SEC would not have not have gained the “toughest league in America” reputation that it now holds.* A reputation that has aided it repeatedly in the BCS era as team after team have landed in the national title game.* Unfortunately, that biggest, baddest reputation can be lost.

Acting selfishly and acting cowardly can cause it to disappear.
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It’s time for Slive and the SEC to step up just as all the other major leagues are stepping up.

A nine-game schedule is what’s best for the league and, as a result, that’s what will be best for every program in the league.

And if a nine-game slate can’t pass muster, then the league must petition the NCAA for a divisionless format that protects 99% of all the league’s most important and oldest rivalries.

Slive has been viewed by many as a visionary.* To maintain that reputation, he must simply keep pace with the rest of the nation at this point.

He can’t afford nailbiting ADs influence by self-serving football coaches to make this call.* He just can't.

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Old 03-06-2012, 02:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Rest of the first article:

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No round robin in divisions?

The complexity of the discussions that have occurred privately for months was evident when The Birmingham News spoke with officials from seven of the 14 SEC members. Athletics directors at Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Kentucky, Florida and Texas A&M declined to be interviewed.

Stricklin opposes nine SEC games because it could leave Mississippi State ineligible for a bowl. So he wonders about trying to change the NCAA rule requiring round-robin divisional play to stage a conference championship game. That could produce schedules with five of six divisional opponents, one cross-division permanent partner and two rotating opponents from the opposite division. The drawback, Stricklin noted, occurs if the two best teams in a division don't play each other.

"You have to figure out what's more important: Do you just worry about playing everybody in your division, or play everybody as often as possible?" Stricklin said. "I don't know the answer."

Another idea Stricklin has for all sports with unbalanced schedules: Play some teams based on the previous year's standings. For instance, football division champions would always play the next year, as would the second-place teams, and so on.

Nonconference scheduling is an X factor. The SEC soon could have more trouble scheduling high-profile teams out of conference once the ACC switches to nine league games and an annual series between the Pac-12 and Big Ten starts in 2017.

"I don't think what anybody else has done has correlation to what the ADs want to do in this league," Templeton said.

McGarity said nine games could prevent Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky from ever scheduling attractive games outside of their annual nonconference rivalries. On the other hand, nine games would help schools that want to sell another high-profile SEC game while saving $1 million or more on guaranteed nonconference games every other year, he said.

To better sell tickets, outgoing Ole Miss AD Pete Boone prefers no permanent partners and eight games. His guess is one permanent, traditional rival will be kept.

"That's just a psychological thing that's hard to overcome," Boone said. "All of these discussions are almost in the eye of the beholder."
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Differing views

The adage says all politics is local. So is SEC scheduling.

For example, Vanderbilt vice chancellor for athletics David Williams said his priorities are keeping eight SEC games and permanent partners and getting better scheduling flexibility. Vanderbilt wants to play SEC teams in its season finales, not Wake Forest, and create room in weeks 4 to 6 for a nonconference game or bye.

"I understand those who say from an attractiveness side that going to nine is good," Williams said. "From my side, I don't want it. I'd rather go to seven games."

Then there's South Carolina Athletics Director Eric Hyman, who said he's open-minded but not enthusiastic about nine.

"Somebody would have to convince me," said Hyman, who wants to keep rivalries with SEC East teams and is flexible on permanent SEC West partners. "I want to hear the debates and the discussions."

Missouri prefers eight SEC games and a rivalry with Texas A&M because so many Mizzou students come from Texas, Missouri Senior Associate Athletics Director Mark Alnutt said. Missouri is willing to stay in the East or move to the West.

"If there's a way we can play more of the schools regularly than the existing format allows, that would be an opportunity for us to familiarize ourselves with these schools," Alnutt said. "We have an opportunity with a great rivalry south of us with Arkansas. Could there be a configuration of North/South? You never know."

Arkansas Athletics Director Jeff Long expressed interest in November for Missouri, the Razorbacks' closest SEC member, to join the West.

"There are a lot of outstanding SEC rivalries that we don't want to lose," Alnutt said. "Us and A&M know we're new to the table and we're not going to be overbearing. But the way we've been embraced, we also feel our voice will be equally valuable."

The priorities for McGarity and Hart are keeping the Georgia-Auburn and Tennessee-Alabama games every year. Hart said he doesn't anticipate ADs changing their favorable view of those annual games after deciding to keep them for 2012.

According to Williams, some SEC ADs want permanent partners for everyone, some want them entirely gone, and some want them for a handful of schools. Williams' view is it's unfair for only some schools to keep permanent rivals.

"But if permanent partner is the hardest decision we have to decide, I'm happy," he said. "There are harder decisions we'll have to make. We brought in two new teams. How do we keep the revenue stream going?"

The answer usually lies in keeping television happy. For instance, Templeton said ESPN and CBS want the SEC to schedule more conference games during the first two and last two weeks of seasons.

Cumbersome scheduling decisions are the price of expansion, said Hart, who experienced a scheduling overhaul in the ACC.

"Unless you're in the room, it's hard to understand how complex it is," Hart said. "But at the end of the day this conference always puts the greater good in front of everything else."
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Old 03-06-2012, 02:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Kentucky is f'd if there are 9 sec games bc it = 9 losses if we dont play ole miss.
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Old 03-06-2012, 03:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Kentucky is f'd if there are 9 sec games bc it = 9 losses if we dont play ole miss.
The intention in it would be to preserve the "cross"es, so I'd imagine you'd stil...wait you guys play miss st yearly not ole miss
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Old 03-06-2012, 03:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Why add two more teams if you don't want to go to nine conference games?
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Old 06-01-2012, 01:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thought about maybe giving this a bump since the conference is supposed to be deciding (or at least discussing) the future scheduling format at this meeting
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Old 06-01-2012, 01:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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And I usually don't pay much heed to Jesse Palmer, but even he made some good points on why the SEC needs to move to 9, yesterday:

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I think the SEC can solve a lot of its scheduling problems by stepping up and playing a ninth conference game as opposed to just playing eight conference games. And I understand if you add another conference game, it makes it tougher for teams inside the SEC to compete for National Championships.

But I can remember a lot of 1-loss SEC Champions - some 2 loss SEC champions - trying to campaign for a spot inside the National Championship Game, and their greatest argument is "we're the champions from the best conference in the country."

I don't understand how you can truly be the champion of that conference when you only have to play eight of the possible thirteen opponents of your conference during the regular season.

The Pac-12 plays 9 conference games; they only have 12 teams. The Big 12 plays 9 conference games; they only have 10 teams.

Right now the SEC at 14 teams is the largest automatic qualifying conference inside the FBS. You create to have some sort of round robin format to ensure teams play as many of each other as possible before determining a champion.

I think if you add that 9th conference game you can keep some of these great rivalries we see in the SEC: Alabama vs Tennessee - been playing since 1901; Auburn vs Georgia - 115 straight years.

The SEC is never shy to tell you "we're the best conference in the country," so put your money where your mouth is and play a ninth conference game.
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Old 06-01-2012, 01:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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also, some stuff from another thread (on the ACC's schedule) but more relevant to this matter:

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This doesn't seem like a good idea unless every other conference does it. It guarantees more losses to teams in your conference. I'd rather have the possibility of going 12-0 or 14-0 out of conference as opposed to automatically adding 6-7 losses. It also lessens the chance of putting a team in the championship as long as conferences continue playing more ooc games.



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They said the same thing in 1992 when the SEC went from 7 to 8 conference games and added the SECCG.
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I think it will be the norm. Although the Pac-10 started it initially to have a round robin, and just kept it when they added Colorado and Utah.
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I think it should, too.

The problem, though...is going to be our conference.

At the current moment, the word has been that the coaches and Athletic Directors are pretty adamant about not expanding past 8 games (the coaches don't want to get rid of an easy - cupcake - game; the ADs don't want to give up the home game payday... though new tv contracts/network would likely bring in more for each of these schools than single games against the Montanas of the sport)

(...I'm also not completely certain, but I think university presidents and commissioner have say and/or votes in such a decision, but it might be something everyone has to be on board with first. If the latter, Slive likely would need some serious work put in to convince some people)

If a 9 game schedule is rejected to maintain an 8 game one though, something else in turn will have to be sacrificed. Either the cross-divisional rotation will have to be severely diminished, or - to the favor of probably anyone not named Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn - the permanent cross-divisional rivals will have to be done away with.

And to add to all this, if it's decided that the new standard for bowl eligibility is now 7 wins, then just forget it completely. None of the conference schools are going to agree to throw away that free win and risk lowering their possibilities of bowl games and bowl game money with that raised requirements. (maybe worth mentioning too that our conference has been near the top in sending 6-6 teams to bowl games.) There's no way they'd (willingly) risk compromising that.

The schools in the conference are going to have to make a decision eventually about matters more to them: the long rivalries they've worked to preserve, their shorter system of home and home rotation, and its own overall standing or a cheap, easy home game win...with a possible loss of integrity (as othet teams talk about how their record would be good, too, if they got to play an extra Furman, Montana, or western Kentucky each season, and how they all use the schedule the SEC is afraid to use...)
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Old 06-01-2012, 01:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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John Clay: Nine-game SEC football schedule best but not likely solution | John Clay | Kentucky.com

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When not working on their tans, the SEC powers-that-be at the Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., this week are working the Rubik's Cube that is the league's football scheduling format in this new age of expansion.

Reports say Friday is the reveal date when Commissioner Mike Slive will probably announce a balky 6-1-1 scheduling configuration.

Here's what the SEC should do: Play nine conference football games.

That isn't going to happen, of course. One more conference game means one fewer cream puff on the menu and one additional chance of another "L" on the record.

League athletic directors aren't in the business of making it tougher for their overpaid coaches. They are in the business of vetting victories.

To that end, however, the league has seen one important number fall as another important number rises.

SEC attendance is down 1.3 percent since the league set a national record in 2008. That figure is tickets sold, not the head count of those actually in the seats. Just because a game is listed as a sellout doesn't mean every seat or parking space or concession-line spot is filled.

Television is the main reason. There are more televised games and more choices than ever before. The TVs themselves are bigger and better, with superior picture quality and theater-level sound.

Not everyone will actually show up to watch State U. play Directional Tech when fans can sit in the comfort of their living room, eat a hamburger that costs less than $8 and have the option of checking in on better games around the dial.

Moreover, while crowd figures are creeping downward, the price of so-called "guarantee" games continues up. Once upon a time, a couple of hundred thousand dollars enticed an outmanned marshmallow into an expected beating. That figure now bumps up against seven figures.

Non-BCS leagues know they have the BCS schools over a barrel when it comes to non-return games and they are using the leverage to their monetary advantage.

A nine-game SEC football schedule would cut down on those problems. League games are better attended than the normal non-conference bores. Plus, members don't have to pay other members to visit campus. It's in the bylaws.

Naysayers say a nine-game conference schedule would unfairly have some teams playing five league home games while others played four. Who said football was fair? Besides, the inequity would even out the next season when the host sites flip.

Naysayers say a ninth conference game would hurt teams like Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, who are usually fighting tooth-and-nail to reach bowl eligibility. Perhaps, but it would also help coffers by adding another watchable foe to the guest list.

A ninth league game would also add much-needed variety.

The expected 6-1-1 scheduling format means schools would play the six foes in their division, plus one "permanent" foe from the other division — UK is expected to keep Mississippi State — plus one opposite-division school on a rotating basis.

That means eight opponents will be locked in to UK's schedule each season. The same six from the East and Mississippi State from the West would be joined by annual rival Louisville.

Only four games would change from year to year. Three of those promise to be the likes of Kent State, Western Kentucky and Samford — teams on the 2012 slate.

No wonder the word is UK's season packages for 2012 are not exactly flying out the ticket office door.

The Pac-12 has played a nine-game league schedule since 2006. The Big 12 played nine league games last year. Talk persists once Pittsburgh and Syracuse enter, the ACC will expand to a nine-game slate. And, starting in 2017, each Big Ten team will play an annual game against a Pac-12 team.

The SEC trumps the football played in any of those conferences. It has the national titles to prove it. The league didn't stand pat when it came to expansion. It should expand its conference schedule, as well.
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Expansion sucks.
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Old 06-02-2012, 10:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Kentucky is f'd
Fixed.
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Old 06-02-2012, 01:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I think 9 is too many
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Old 06-02-2012, 01:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I think 9 is too many
I agree, but they will eventually move to 16 conference teams. It may not be within the next 5 years, but it is coming.

When they make that move, they will have no choice
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