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May 29, 2012

Spurrier ‘clarifies' comments about Saban

SANDESTIN, Fla. | South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier backtracked from comments he made earlier this year in which he appeared to take a shot at Alabama coach Nick Saban.

In April, Spurrier told ESPN.com's Southeastern Conference blogger Chris Low that Saban needs to prove his greatness by winning big elsewhere.

"If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they've always won there at Alabama," Spurrier told Low.

At the time, many pointed out the strangeness of Spurrier's comments considering the fact that Saban won big at LSU, with two SEC titles and a national championship in 2003.

Spurrier clarified his comments Tuesday at the opening day of SEC spring meetings.

"No, he's a great coach. That wasn't what I was talking about," Spurrier said.

"I was just saying, they won their 14th national championship this year, right? OK. ... One reason that I love being at South Carolina is we have so many opportunities to achieve things for the first time ever. Don't get me wrong, some people would rather be at a place where you can win it all every year.

"Certainly Alabama, LSU, Florida, there are a lot of schools where you can have that opportunity. Once something has already been accomplished it's neat to do it again, but it's not the first time ever. I just sort of look forward to doing some first-time things at South Carolina."

League scheduling headaches

Among the more talked-about topics on the table this week for university presidents, athletic directors and coaches is the conference scheduling for both football and basketball.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive addressed the topic after the first day's meetings concluded.

"You know, I think our league has been up to now certainly an eight-team conference game schedule," Slive said.

"We'll see what emerges."

For football, each team has been playing eight conference games made up of five games against teams within its division, two games with rotating teams from the other division and one permanent game against a team from the other division.

In 2012, with seven teams in each division, each team will play six divisional games and two crossover games.

Potentional plans that will be discussed this week include moving the conference to a nine-game schedule or possibly doing away with the permanent traditional game pitting East-West teams, e.g. Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia.

The conference will also decide how to schedule its basketball season with 14 teams. Currently each team plays 16 conference games.

"We talked to the basketball coaches today and we've got an 18-game schedule, and now we're developing a format to go with the 18-game schedule," Slive said.

"That's in process now. I'm hoping that will be resolved while we're still here in terms on format so we can get to the scheduling part."

Welcome to the league, rookie

Kevin Sumlin has the added difficulty of not only being a first-year coach at Texas A&M, but navigating his first season as an Aggie while learning a new conference and the protocols that could come along with being a rookie in a new league.

As the new guy, Sumlin joked that he would take a wait-and-see approach before diving into the deep waters of the SEC.

"I am the new guy. I'm just going to kind of listen and see what direction we're going," Sumlin said in regards to league scheduling, etc.

"If it really, really affects us, then I'll speak up, but as the new guy you're just trying to get your feet wet and figure out how things work. We had a meeting in Birmingham two or three months ago, which was very educational to me, and so there is a comfort level but it's like anything else, when you're the new guy, you pay attention to what's going on and get your plan together."


Tide's Grant has an open mind

University of Alabama men's basketball coach Anthony Grant said he would "take an open mind" into the SEC coaches' discussion on scheduling.

"I don't really know too much beyond the fact that we will play 18 games and Auburn will be our permanent (home-and-home) rival, or one of them.

"On the rest, I am willing to listen."


Cecil Hurt contributed to this report.

Reach Aaron Suttles at Aaron@TideSports.com or at 205-722-0229.


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