published Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

FCS foes to remain part of SEC scheduling

The little guy kept coming up at the big-boy table Tuesday as the Southeastern Conference spring meetings got under way in Destin, Fla.

SEC football scheduling as far as league opponents is known through 2025, but will conference members keep playing teams from the Championship Subdivision? As with other scheduling matters in recent months, league coaches were divided.

"I believe it is best for us to continue doing that," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said in a news conference. "I came up from a smaller school, and I know the value it adds to those programs. I find it hard to believe that one game over the totality of a season would really hinder you if you played well in those other games."

Ole Miss had a convincing win at traditional power Texas last season and also waxed FCS member Southeast Missouri State. The Rebels have FCS matchups this year against Presbyterian and next year against UT-Martin.

In agreement with Freeze is Georgia's Mark Richt, who does not have experience coaching at smaller schools but understands the challenge of FCS members. The Bulldogs have played one FCS team each of the last eight seasons and are scheduled to play Charleston Southern this year and Southern next year.

"If we don't have those games with the FCS schools, a lot of them have a very difficult time making their budgets," Richt told reporters. "I think college football is too important at all levels to hurt them by setting criteria that would not allow you to play them."

Alabama has played an FCS program every year under Nick Saban, winning those contests by an average score of 49-6. The Crimson Tide have defeated Western Kentucky and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga the past two seasons by a combined 98-0.

Saban has proposed that the five power conferences schedule nonconference games against each other, but he knows that is not realistic right now and that FCS opponents will continue to exist.

"We try not to do it now, but sometimes it's all that we have left to schedule so we can get 12 games," Saban told reporters. "It's not by choice that we want to do it. I'm for the first people who need to be taken into consideration here who get no consideration -- the fans and the people who support the programs."

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said scheduling FCS schools would be left up to each league member.

Georgia Southern, which was in its final FCS season last year, pulled a 26-20 upset of Florida in November. The Gators are scheduled to play Eastern Kentucky this season, but coach Will Muschamp said there will be no more FCS opponents moving forward.

Georgia opens CBS slate

The Georgia-South Carolina game will open the CBS broadcast schedule of SEC football this season for the first time since 2008.

CBS is entering its 19th season broadcasting the SEC and has opened most years with the Florida-Tennessee matchup, which will be held in October for the first time in 1991. The network announced a handful of telecasts Tuesday in conjunction with the start of the league's spring meetings.

Georgia's game at South Carolina is scheduled for Sept. 13 with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks have won 33 games the past three seasons, while the Bulldogs have won 31.

The Bulldogs again will play Florida in Jacksonville on CBS at 3:30, this year on Nov. 1.

CBS announced that its noon-3:30 doubleheader will be Oct. 11 and that its 3:30-8 doubleheader will be Nov. 8. Alabama is scheduled to visit LSU on Nov. 8, so that likely will be the network's one prime-time telecast for a fourth consecutive year.

Arkansas is closing this season with Missouri instead of LSU, so the Razorbacks and Tigers will vie on CBS at 2:30 on Nov. 28, which is the day after Thanksgiving.

No guarantees

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan, who has led the Gators to seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours and two national championships, has received calls about NBA vacancies in recent weeks. Donovan is planning to stay with Florida but is not being definitive.

"I think when you start making guarantees about life, that's not good," Donovan told reporters. "I've heard a lot of coaches over the years say, 'I'm not going anywhere,' and then all of the sudden they go somewhere."

Odds and ends

The SEC awarded its 2018 basketball tournament to St. Louis and its 2022 tournament to Tampa. Nashville will be the host every other year through 2025. ... The SEC will keep playing 18 league basketball games but will go from one to three permanent opponents. The permanent foes will be determined in upcoming months. ... Saban on the assumption that transfer quarterback Jacob Coker will start: "Everybody is way ahead of me on that one. I haven't seen the guy throw the ball since he was in high school."

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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