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Three big questions for SEC spring meetings


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Goodman: Three big questions for SEC spring meetings

By Joseph Goodman | jgoodman@al.com
8-9 minutes

Coaches and administrators around the SEC will be unpacking their suitcases this weekend for the league’s annual spring meetings in Sandestin, Florida.

SEC spring meetings begin on Tuesday and run through Friday, but everyone knows the real fun happens before the reporters arrive. I’m imagining surf, sand and Sam Pittman announcing his arrival to the pool deck by screaming a signature “Yessir!” followed by a running cannonball into the deep end.

Or maybe that’s just my early prediction for the SEC West’s surprise contender.

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The SEC’s annual spring junket is meeting in person for the first time since 2019, which means only four — FOUR! — football coaches were around back then when LSU basketball coach Will Wade participated in one of the most bizarre news conferences I’ve ever attended. The infamous FBI tape featuring Wade’s “strong-ass offer” line had been leaked a couple months earlier, and the SEC spring meetings were Wade’s first time with reporters.

Think about how much has changed for major collegiate athletics since Wade’s awkward exchange with reporters back at the Sandestin Hilton in 2019. These SEC spring meetings come on the heels of Alabama coach Nick Saban accusing Texas A&M of paying all of the recruits from the Aggies’ historically great 2022 signing class.

Hey, Nick, got any of that on tape?

Wade was fired back in March after an NCAA investigation that took years. These days, the NCAA can’t even investigate pay-for-play for fear of an antitrust lawsuit.

From Wade’s opening statement in 2019: “As the leader of the basketball program, I’m here today to start the process of rebuilding trust. I think certainly as I’ve had time to reflect since I was out for 40 days or so, there were some mistakes that I made. But ever since that, when I was able to sit down and talk with LSU and meet with LSU and meet with the NCAA, I was fully cooperative. I disclosed everything and answered any and all questions completely and fully with LSU and with the NCAA.”

There was a time not too long ago when Wade was viewed as Public Enemy No.1 in the SEC. Perceptions have changed since then. Paying players via NIL collectives is becoming a common practice around the country. I don’t see much of a difference in the end. Only now the kids can make even more money.

Pour a Bushwacker out at the Red Door Saloon for Wade, y’all. He was simply a man before his time, and should be remembered not as some filthy bayou pariah, but as a progressive Southern innovator. Now NIL collectives across the country are cutting deals with recruits for the rights to their name, image and likeness, and college sports will never be the same again.

As far as I’m concerned, these are the Will Wade Memorial SEC Spring Meetings, and anyone who disagrees is probably under a gag order by conference commissioner Greg Sankey anyway. We can only hope for this year’s meetings to be so awkward, and, thanks to Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher our seaside coastal dreams might come true.

For reporters, SEC spring meetings are all about the questions. I got three that need answering.


Saban, Fisher, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops are the only football coaches in the SEC who were around for those memorable 2019 SEC spring meetings. Since then, 10 new head football coaches have been hired and they all have one thing in common besides envying Texas A&M’s deep-pocketed NIL collectives. Every coach is white.

It begs the question, why is the SEC so white?

One of the biggest problems facing the SEC (which, let’s be real, is so rich it doesn’t have many problems) is its lack of diversity among head football coaches. All 14 coaches are white, and when Texas and Oklahoma join the conference it will be 16. It’s a clear example of systemic racism, which means the processes by which these football coaches are hired needs improving. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is pretty much powerless in this arena, but I know he would love to affect change if he could.

If only there were a mechanism out there to balance the economy of the SEC and take away power from the boosters? Oh, wait. There is. It’s called paying players. If the SEC wants to begin being a force for change, then maybe some of these school leaders can at least begin acknowledging the problem at SEC spring meetings.


Secession is a trigger word in the Deep South, but what else are we going to call it if the topic of breaking away from the NCAA is discussed at SEC spring meetings?

Hey, what if the SEC broke away from the NCAA … and then started to pay players? Now wouldn’t that be a twist? Most likely, these SEC spring meetings will only serve as a chance for Sankey to continue his saber-rattling rhetoric. If he talks about the SEC having an intra-conference, eight-team playoff, then we’ll know he’s gone full troll.

Sankey, of course, was in favor of a 12-team national playoff, but other conferences wanted eight. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC backed away from the College Football Playoff negotiation table this spring, and now the awful four-team playoff format will continue for at least the next several years.

The four-team playoff format, which represents the worst postseason in American sports, is threatening to stunt the growth of college football at best and ruin it at worst. Major changes are coming to the SEC with the addition of Oklahoma and Texas in a couple years, and myriad possible alignment and postseason scenarios will be discussed during SEC spring meetings. An intra-conference postseason playoff is an awful idea, though, and one that can’t even be taken seriously.

The SEC playoff idea was suggested in a report by ESPN last week. Back on May 18, the NCAA announced conferences could determine their champions anyway they wanted. The Pac-12 immediately dropped the requirement for division champions and changed its championship game to feature the two Pac-12 teams with the best winning percentage. It was a smart way to game the current system of a four-team playoff.

Maybe the SEC thinks the threat of an eight-team SEC playoff will intimidate everyone back to the negotiation table, but a more sensible approach would be for the league to expand conference schedules to nine games and realign the divisions. A four-team pod system has been suggested, but that just sounds like a good way to mess up a great thing. This isn’t a World Cup. It’s the SEC.

My new SEC East: Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.

My new SEC West: Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Texas and Texas A&M.


Sankey’s current gag order on football coaches discussing NIL and the feud between Fisher and Saban will be tested at SEC spring meetings. Will Sankey lift the ban? Might as well. That’s what everyone is going to be talking about anyway.

Will all know what Will Wade would want, and that would be for everyone to offer really strong tips to their bartenders.

Fisher is still mad about Saban accusing him of paying recruits, and SEC spring meetings will be a good time for Texas A&M’s coach to practice new ways of anger management. I’ve heard deep breaths between sentences helps.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group, and author of “We Want Bama: A season of hope and the making of Nick Saban’s ‘ultimate team’”. You can find him on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr.

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Joseph Goodman is a hack, low IQ buffoon. Can't believe I wasted 5 minutes of my life reading that drivel. I'll know better next time. (Not a dig at you Fifty - keep posting)

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