published Thursday, May 30th, 2013

SEC looking ahead to football playoff

The upcoming college football season will be the last in which the Harris poll, the USA Today coaches' poll and several computer services comprise the Bowl Championship Series standings that determine which two teams play for the national title.

Beginning in 2014, a four-team playoff will decide the sport's champion, and the fortunate four will be determined by a selection committee. At this week's Southeastern Conference meetings in Destin, Fla., commissioner Mike Slive asked the league's 14 athletic directors to submit potential candidates for the committee.

"This will be a very labor-intensive exercise," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told reporters Wednesday. "You are not picking as many teams as you do for the basketball tournament. You are picking four teams. Everybody is going to want to know the people working on them and if they had the proper credentials."

The committee is not expected to exceed 20 members, and active athletic directors, active commissioners and active media members are not likely to be chosen. Slive would like the SEC athletic directors to submit candidates to him by Friday.

College football's title pairing has been determined for nearly a decade by the Harris and USA Today polls and the computers, with each counting a third in the BCS standings. The Harris poll entered the mix in 2005 and replaced The Associated Press poll, which withdrew as a determining factor after an '04 season in which Southern California, Oklahoma and Auburn were undefeated entering the bowls.

"You want bright people who understand all the facets of the game," Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said. "You want people who have great experience and understand strength of schedule, and you want people of great integrity, obviously. I think there are a lot of those kinds of people out there."

Battle is a former Harris poll voter but isn't sure he would want to serve on the committee, whose members could be announced by the end of this year. Some of the possibilities tossed out Wednesday were former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning and former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer.

"Two teams are going to be no-brainers, and probably three," Battle said. "The fourth team is going to be the challenge."

More on scheduling

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva told reporters that the league is getting closer to announcing its 2014 schedule but that it may not happen this week.

Alleva expects it to be a third consecutive bridge schedule in the 6-1-1 format, which will result in every school's one rotating cross-divisional opponent being subject for lively debate. LSU coach Les Miles has been outspoken about the imbalance the current system provides, with his Tigers drawing Florida and South Carolina out of the East Division last year and Florida and Georgia later this year.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said league coaches voted 13-1 to stay at eight league games, with Alabama's Nick Saban being the lone dissenter. Battle said he didn't know if going to nine league games was the answer but believes every SEC school should be playing 10 quality opponents.

"I've been reading all week that all over the country the fan experience needs to improve," Battle said, "and the best way to improve the fan experience is to put on good games. We can make the food better and the food line shorter, but if we put a better product on the field, people will come."

Ely leaving Alabama

Alabama redshirt sophomore quarterback Phillip Ely announced Wednesday morning that he was transferring to Toledo. The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder from Tampa played in six games last season and went 3-for-4 for 42 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to tailback Eddie Lacy against Mississippi State.

Ely made the announcement via Twitter, stating, "Ready to make a change in my life for the better, and I thank everyone who has supported me through this process. Go Rockets!" He was among six Crimson Tide scholarship quarterbacks this spring.

Odds and ends

Arkansas announced Wednesday that the Razorbacks will face Texas Tech in Lubbock during the 2014 football season before hosting the Red Raiders in 2015. ... Spurrier on whether he thinks a move to nine league games is inevitable: "Anything can happen when television starts telling you what to do."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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