Coaches dismiss chance to add early recruiting

DESTIN, Fla. - The SEC’s football coaches figure their fall calendars are too full to add intense recruiting weekends to the mix.

The conference’s 12 coaches rejected the idea of an early NCAA signing period similar to the one used by men’s and women’s basketball. Proponents say an early signing date would end the practice of coaches continuing to recruit players who have already committed to another school.

But Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer said going to a December signing period for high school players (junior college transfers currently sign in December) would put too much strain on a coaching staff.

“It was a consensus of coaches that during the season we want to be coaches and not recruiters,” Fulmer said Wednesday.

“If you end up having the early signing date, then you push back recruiting during the season when you’re having half a dozen guys to a dozen guys and families that you’re having to entertain and not taking care of the business of gameday.”

Vanderbilt’s Bobby Johnson, Kentucky’s Rich Brooks and LSU’s Les Miles supported the measure.

Strength of schedule. Highlighted by games against Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech, Georgia’s nonconference football schedule was voted the SEC’s toughest in The Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register’s polling of 12 sportswriters who cover the conference.

Georgia, which also has Western Carolina and Troy on its nonconference slate, edged Tennessee (Sept. 1 opener at Cal) and Auburn (Kansas State, South Florida) for the honor of saltiest schedule.

USC, which faces a pair of ACC schools in North Carolina and Clemson, has the fourth-toughest, nonconference schedule, according to the poll.

Arkansas was the runaway choice for worst schedule. The Razorbacks, one of five SEC schools that will play all of their nonconference games at home, face a forgettable foursome of Troy, North Texas, Chattanooga and Florida International.

SEC schools looked to the Sun Belt Conference to fill 13 of the 48 nonconference slots. The Gamecocks open the season Sept. 1 against Sun Belt member Louisiana-Lafayette.

Back in the USA. For the second time this month, USC’s Steve Spurrier and Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville will be on a golf course together. This time the coaches are not competing against each other, but participating in today’s pro-am at the Boeing Championship, a Champions Tour event on the Sandestin property where the SEC meetings are being held.

Spurrier beat Tuberville, 6 and 4, in a charity, match-play event in Birmingham, Ala., two weeks ago.

“There’s not going to be a rematch,” Spurrier said.

The 62-year-old Spurrier traveled to Ireland last week for a golf vacation. After playing seven courses, including the prestigious Royal County Down, Spurrier is looking forward to a more forgiving layout.

“Those courses in Ireland were too tough for me,” Spurrier said. “I couldn’t hit it out of the tall stuff.”

Broadcast news. As expected, the SEC announced Wednesday that USC’s Sept. 8 game against Georgia will be televised on ESPN2 at 5:45 p.m. The Gamecocks’ Thursday night game with Kentucky on Oct. 4 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Eight of USC’s nine national TV appearances last season were on ESPN or ESPN2.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.