No $5K Offer For Nick Saban To Retire Or Jimbo Battle, But SEC Has Decisions To Make In Destin As Texas And Oklahoma Join The Party

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A week from today, the SEC will meet in Destin for its annual retreat to the beach to comb through scheduling and rule changes. While we most likely won’t see any $5,000 offers to Nick Saban or Jimbo Fisher beef, the SEC has a number of tough decisions to make as they welcome Texas and Oklahoma to the conference.

Now, if you go back just one year, the talk was certainly different. Nick Saban decided to let everyone know how he felt about NIL being the main component of high school recruiting. Caught in the crosshairs of these comments was Jimbo Fisher, who decided to hold a press conference to offer up words to Nick Saban. It turned into the first public battle between coaches regarding NIL.

During Jimbo Fisher’s tirade, he brought Lane Kiffin into the conversation, which only led to further backhanded comments about Texas A&M and Ole Miss. But, the guy who started it all, Nick Saban, lit a fuse and watched the anticipation build towards Spring meetings.

All parties arrived in Destin ready to make nice, but that didn’t stop the questions at every press gathering around Jimbo or Saban. There certainly aren’t those type of fireworks headed into the annual retreat this year, but there will be some new faces at the party.

I don’t think we’ll see any kids making offers to Nick Saban either. If you recall, at last year’s Spring meeting, I tracked down a young kid who offered Nick Saban $5,000 to retire, in one of the wildest stories I’ve covered at these meetings.

I was trying to get answers from this kid as he was being escorted off the property, all while Nick Saban was laughing off the situation, calling him a ‘cute kid’. There most likely will never be a moment like that again, but I appreciate the kid giving us something else to discuss.

Texas, Oklahoma Officials Attending First Spring Meeting

Welcome to the party, Texas and Oklahoma. I hope both AD’s don’t forget to bring their sunscreen and appetite for arguments. We’re approaching the last year for both schools in the Big 12 and with so much at stake in terms of conference modeling, it’s the perfect time to jump into the fray.

University of Texas president Jay Hartzell knows it will be a different type of meeting for him, as both new additions do not have voting power in Destin. But, this is the perfect opportunity for both schools to get familiar with how things are ran. Think of this as more of their first time at a new summer camp, interacting with the senior leaders.

“My impression is scheduling is tough for them, probably will be the topic of the day, and then figuring out what is the latest in terms of media discussions and how those two interact,” Hartzell told ESPN. “I’ll be there mainly to start building relationships.”

Texas QB Arch Manning
Arch Manning #16 of the Texas Longhorns. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Even though both of these schools understand what their walking into, being the new adults at the table can be a bit taxing. The best thing both Texas and Oklahoma officials can do is make sure their teams are taken care of when it comes to football scheduling and media rights.

There SEC Is Full At The Moment, Come Back Later

There was particular interest in what the ACC and Big Ten are doing at the moment from an SEC perspective. No, this is not the time to take a victory lap. but with the news coming out of ACC meetings and the current Big Ten media deal, I’d say Greg Sankey is feeling alright.

There’s no way of making the ACC look good at the moment. The conference has numerous teams hoping for a way out of the league and its horrible television package. Florida State AD Michael Alford can say all the right words, but everyone around the SEC and Big Ten know how frustrated ACC members are at the moment. The problem is that there’s no way out of the ‘grant of rights’ without writing check for over $120 million, which doesn’t include giving up future television revenue.

So, this puts the SEC in a very good spot. The conference will always tell you that they’re open for business if the right situation presents itself. But let’s not get crazy here, a lot of things would have to happen for the SEC to add another few schools in the next three years. Now, with the upcoming addition of Texas and Oklahoma, the conference sits at sixteen teams.

Maybe, if the opportunity presents itself that certain schools are willing to write the ACC a check, conversations will change. But at the moment, SEC members are content with the upcoming payouts from the television deal with ESPN and their cut.

Scheduling And Gambling, Topics Of Discussion For SEC

The conversation on scheduling as been a hot button topic for the past year. The choices have been narrowed down to the 1-7 model or 3-6 format. The first choice would have teams play one annual rival per season, while rotating through the remaining 14 teams on a biannual basis. The second choice is having each team play three permanent opponents, while rotating through the other 12 schools every-other year.

Both of these formats would see each SEC school facing a conference foe every other year. So, this means we won’t have scenarios like Georgia not traveling to Texas A&M. But there are some schools that would prefer a 1-7 model that doesn’t take away one non-conference game. Some of the SEC schools like to have multiple ‘sure things’ on their schedule each year, which helps with bowl games and the obvious, wins.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The most logical scenario for the SEC is to allow schools not to play a power-5 opponent in the non-conference portion, as this would make the vote for the 3-6 format much easier to get.

As for gambling, the SEC was hit pretty hard when Alabama’s Brad Bohannon was fired for alleged illegal activity in terms of betting. This has led conference officials to have deep conversations with member schools on driving the point home to student athletes. But there also needs to be a discussion of how the conference will look at gambling sponsorships in the future.

The SEC heads into the 2023 meetings in a much better spot financially and from a public relations standpoint. I’m sure one of these feisty coaches will try to make a point on something that’s eating at them while speaking with the media, but the fireworks should be lighter this year.

But, there’s still seven days from the start.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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