The Southeastern Conference begins its annual spring meetings Tuesday on the gulf coast of Florida, gathering as a group partly for administrative meetings and partly to celebrate itself.
All 14 presidents, athletics directors, head football coaches, head men’s and women’s basketball coaches will attend some part of the four-day event to check the temperature of their various parts of one of college sports’ most successful and profitable conglomerations.
Here are five topics fans can expect to hear about:
Football staff sizes
The NCAA recently made news by allowing college football teams to hire a 10th full-time, on-field coach beginning after this season, but the truth is coaching and support staffs have long since grown way past that number. A survey obtained by CBSSports.com indicated Notre Dame leads the nation in number of people employed in coaching or support by the football team with 45, but some reports have suggested Alabama employs 97. The NCAA finally seems ready to look at putting a cap on that number.
Gamecock basketball coaches
The SEC now has three head men’s basketball coaches who have been to a Final Four as South Carolina’s Frank Martin joins Kentucky’s John Calipari and Mississippi State’s Ben Howland (then at UCLA). Martin now becomes a go-to voice in the league for regional and national media members, which will widen his and the program’s reach. And then there’s Dawn Staley, who may still be wearing her netlace from the USC women’s basketball national title.
Last year, Alabama head coach Nick Saban got his feathers ruffled when Crimson Tide defensive back Maurice Smith transferred to Georgia to play for former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. When Saban’s upset, it usually leads to rule changes in the SEC. Conference commissioner Greg Sankey told the Associated Press he expects to discuss both inter-conference and intra-conference graduate transfers. While the league may outlaw swaps between SEC schools, don’t bet it on it banning outside athletes from joining the league.
Early signing period
The early signing period, a three-day window in December, for football is here, at least for this year, but Sankey will take the opportunity to make a point about why he doesn’t like the change. Expect the league’s coaches to fall in line with that, rolling out various doomsday scenarios about what the new period and new official visit rules could mean while behind the scenes working like mad to maximize their advantage in the new ecosystem.
Campus carry legislation
This is a wild card topic that may not get any traction. Then again, it could become the biggest news out of the week. Arkansas and Georgia have recently adopted or suggested legislation that would allow football fans to carry concealed weapons onto campus during tailgating events. Sankey already has voiced his skepticism about how this might affect the league.