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(Associated Press)

Hobbs: They’re accustomed to living high on the Hog

Last Modified: Saturday, June 02, 2012 11:21 PM

By Scooter Hobs / American Press

BATON ROUGE — Hope you don’t mind if I ramble on a bit here at Alex Box Stadium on a beautiful day for baseball with the LSU game still several hours away.

The Southeastern Conference spring meetings in Destin were certainly interesting, and they had the usual happy ending when Commissioner Mike Slive religiously followed a 21-year tradition when he passed out a record amount of money to each of the 12 schools, in this case $20.1 million per school.

And it didn’t matter if you were Vanderbilt or Alabama, you still got a pretty fair operating budget for a third-world country. The haul marked a 9.8 percent increase from the previous year for the 21st consecutive year.

Of course, Texas A&M and Missouri were on hand but had to sit out the lucrative part at the end because they don’t join the conference until the upcoming school year.

Next year those two puppies will be at the trough ready to collect their shares.

Could this be more expansioneers remorse on the way?

Consider that next year, with two more mouths to feed, the SEC is going to have to generate an extra $40.2 million just to make the pot right. And, actually, that wouldn’t quite do it.

If they’re expecting that annual bump of almost 10 percent per year — and the league office still skims its share off the top for paper clips and copy machines and whatnot — it’s more like an extra $68 million or so that has to be generated to keep them living in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed (high on the Hog — and now Aggies, too).

This year, for random example, the league put $21.6 million more in the kitty than the previous year — and that was a year with two SEC teams in the lucrative BCS title game.

I doubt they’ll be reduced to looking under the couch cushions for spare change, but it’s something to think about it when charging full bore into the bigger-is-better dream.

The reasoning is that the expanded SEC footprint makes the conference more attractive to television networks and they’ll put the squeeze on them.

But so far CBS isn’t yet in a mood to renegotiate its contract. ESPN might come around, but it won’t be automatic.

The SEC is on TV just about ever hour of every Saturday as it is, so the only answer may be the unthinkable — more Thursday games, maybe Wednesday and Tuesday, too.

Damn the traditions … money-money-money-money.

But at least the football coaches did all get together and come out unanimous in their support of the “best-four” system for the impending four-team playoff for their sport.

This was as opposed to the “only-conference-champions-need-apply” format, the one being promoted, mostly by the Big Ten and Pac-12.

This was not startling news, the league figuring if it got two in last year under the “best-two” scenario, then two out of four should be even more fun and far easier.

Who can blame them?

Of course, this is kind of like Louisiana passing a state law and expecting Colorado to abide by it.

Just because the SEC coaches have endorsed it, it doesn’t mean the rest of the conferences that will have a say have to follow suit. Thus far, only the Big 12 is publicly on board with the SEC on the matter.

If anything, perhaps the SEC, as the 800-pound gorilla, would be better served by reverse psychology, coming out for the conference champion theory to let the other conferences wonder what they’re up to.

If it points out anything, it’s that something as much fun as college football has become way too serious for its own good.

Nobody can take a joke anymore, for which the SEC meeting also produced more troubling evidence.

Take Vanderbilt, for instance, which has been a bit of a knee-slapper football punch line for most its curious existence.

But then promising head coach James Franklin, who has people taking the Commodores half serious, tried to tell a funny on the radio.

“I will not hire an assistant coach until I’ve seen his wife,” is what Franklin said. “If she looks the part, and she’s a D-I recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal.”

People, it was a joke — he was kidding, even when he went on to explain, tongue in cheek, that a football coach that could over-marry a beautiful wife would surely have the confidence and charm needed for the recruiting trail.

But, as you can imagine, the pc police mustered its SWAT team and dispatched it to handle the situation, getting well up in arms over a nothing situation.

He did not mean that women, in this day and age, should be judged only by their high cheek bones.

But, of course, now he’s been forced into a foxhole, just about wearing out his Twitter account to apologize and make nice.

Some people really need to get a life, which in some cases apparently is tougher than rounding up an extra $68 million.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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