Every year the SEC holds its spring meetings in order to determine what changes - if any - are necessary to the way the conference does business. This year's took place last week in Destin, FL., and there were a few decisions made. It's also when the conference divvies out the financial windfalls of the previous season. Things were quite good this year. Really good, in fact.
Some of the issues addressed were unexpected. Others not so much. Here are the big happenings and a bit about each of them.
So That's How You Want To Play It?
Look, we know the other conferences in the Power Five aren't going to adapt the ACC and SEC's rules on the "satellite camp" loophole. The SEC is still going to try to make it happen, but it's not going to. So, the SEC has stated that if it doesn't happen, then the SEC will get rid of their prohibition and the game will be on come Spring 2016.
I really think that's the way the SEC should have played it from the beginning. Rather than complain about other conferences, they should have just said "well, we kind of like this idea and we're going to do it to," and then see if the other conferences stepped back a bit. Instead, the conference just looks whiny and has been treated as such by the media.
They Want To Keep Them Off The Field, Tonight.
The fines for court/field rushing have increased considerably. The old fines were very low and reset after three years. The $5,000 check Jay Jacobs had to write for Auburn rushing the field after the 2013 Iron Bowl was probably the easiest $5,000 check he's ever spent. After that the fine was $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for the third and every subsequent offense until there was a three year gap to reset.
Now? $50,000 for the first offense, $100,000 for the second offense and a cool $250,000 for the third. And that three year reset? Gone. So those fines stay.
How much does this really hurt Auburn? I'm not too worried about it, really. I can only remember three times in recent memory where Auburn fans have rushed the field or court. There's the 2013 Iron Bowl, 2001 victory over #1 Florida in football, and then when Auburn clenched the 1999 SEC regular season basketball championship.
The thing is... increasing the fines doesn't do a thing to get to the source of the problem. It's not the school administration that rushes the field. It's the fans. A single line of police officers does nothing to a mad rush of thousands of people. If they really wanted to ensure that no one rushed the field/court, then they would go with something like forfeiture of the game or something similarly harsh. You can't argue that students will feel the pinch in tuition/athletic fee increases when those things increase every year anyway.
Show Me The Money
Auburn had the largest increase in cost of attendance of the Top 25 football programs. This, of course, was eye-raising to many who wondered how Auburn could have a larger increase than schools in Los Angeles, California. There were some in the SEC who raised concerns that padding the books could be a way to help recruiting.
So, the SEC decided to make it a bit more transparent. The SEC will require each school to specify exactly what else beyond the general scholarship the school is calculating will be necessary to give students. I'm sure there won't be any padding or exaggeration in those numbers, either. Nope. Not at all.
Eight Is Better Than Seven!
The SEC experimented with an eight man crew last season. Now they've made it permanent. Some have said this will help HUNH offenses play at a faster pace. However, it didn't exactly help Auburn in 2014 when they played at Kansas State and an 8-man Big12 crew. Of course, the crew in question may have had an ulterior motive in not being as quick as they could.
The SEC explained during the meetings how this crew will allow them to avoid missing some key penalties. They also used a ton of Auburn plays in order to Illustrate their point.
Transfer Prohibitions For Serious Misconduct
Yeah, I wasn't going to make a joking headline for this one. The SEC has decided to prohibit schools from accepting transfers from players who faced disciplinary actions at their former schools for domestic violence, sexual assault, or other sexual violence events.
This is the rule that many today have been joking on social media that they don't see how Nick Saban didn't understand what was meant. However, those folks are clearly guilty of taking a quote out of context. Particularly in regards to Saban's comment about Cam Newton and Nick Marshall. Many of taken this as Saban thinking that all players who faced disciplinary issues would have been prohibited from transferring into the SEC.
However, if you read his full quotes, it's not exactly like that. Saban was saying that he sought clarification before the vote was ever made. He's still not a fan of anything that restricts SEC schools' ability to get the best players available (because 'CROOTIN). It sounds as if he wanted to ensure that the rule was clarified on what is and isn't prohibited before any rule was passed in order to limit the damage to the CROOTIN' pool. Now the rule has passed, and it's fairly clear.
Well, at least it's kind of clear. Not completely. One thing the above article does relate is the question on whether a player was accused and then either acquitted or charges were dropped. This is a double-edged sword, though. Dorial Green-Beckam transfered from Missouri to Oklahoma after his dismissal on domestic violence charges. The charges were later dropped. Innocent until proven guilty, right? So shouldn't he have been clear to go wherever he wanted?
I use him as an example for a reason. There are indications that perhaps charges were never pressed because the victim feared reprisals or the scrutiny. That is the exact opposite of what we want to see happen in these cases. I do believe there should be a waiver or examination process for those who never actually face charges or are acquitted. It should be a very strict examination of the facts and if there's even the slightest hint that the player got off due to their status as an athlete, then the transfer should be blocked.
That doesn't even get into the issue of whether the league should have a greater hand in punishment of athletes at member schools. Take the case of Johnathon Taylor, the player who transferred from Georgia to Alabama. Had Taylor not been kicked off the UGA team, would he still be eligible to play even though he had committed one of these "serious misconduct" offenses? This is sure to be an issue that the SEC takes up in the future. It was clear from this year's team meetings that the majority of the schools - and the league office - still feel that ultimate disciplinary discretion for players currently in the league resides with the school.
Other NCAA Rule Changes
There are other changes that are for all of college football. No more overbuilt face masks and illegal blocking during an onside kick being reviewable in particular. The overbuilt face masks aren't really that big a deal, although there were a few Auburn players who had to change.
The onside kick change? That might be the death of the onside kick. Or at least the death of the quick-kick as Auburn has done it in recent years. That method relied on a wedge in front of the ball as the kicked waited for the ball to travel the required 10 yards. Now the kick will have to travel extremely fast before the opposing defense recognizes the play and attacks the ball before they can be blocked.
What do y'all think of these changes? Sound off in the comments below!