The SEC spring meetings are about to begin at the Hilton Sandestin Beach in sunny Florida, where programs gather to discuss the upcoming season, local and national rules, and the future of the league.
In the past, this week was devoted to the SEC puffing out its chest while discussing past successes or plotting to take over the sport of college football even more. Now, the world is somewhat closing in on the league that has held the title of the sport's best for so long. The ACC and Big Ten are grappling to push the SEC off its pedestal, which some people seem to think has already happened.
It's important to note that just because the SEC watched Clemson walk away with college football's top prize at the end of the 2016 season (at the expense of SEC golden child Alabama) doesn't mean the league is dead in the water or backpedaling fast. Things are changing around the SEC, and the league has to adapt and evolve.
Here are some of the hot topics that SEC administrators and coaches will discuss this week:
1. Graduate transfers: The hot white trend in college football will be discussed in detail yet again in Destin. This time, it will revolve around Florida and a rule that has put the Gators on probation. Florida is currently banned from taking graduate transfers during a three-year period that ends in 2018 because previous grad transfers Mason Halter and Anthony Harrell didn't meet academic requirements.
Because of that, Florida is waiting to see if the SEC will change its probation rule before it can take former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire, who has reportedly picked the Gators over Texas. Zaire has waited to see what the league will do, and it seems as though the SEC is just punishing itself by standing alone with this rule.
2. Alcohol sales: For years, talk of alcohol sales at SEC sporting events has crept into the conversation. And the SEC isn't alone. Texas is selling alcohol at games, and the NCAA isn't afraid to experiment with more sales.
So will the SEC dip its toe into the, uh, beer, and provide alcohol outside of the club areas?
LSU has been at the forefront of this movement in the league and you can't argue the revenue that could be made with alcohol sales. Safety and underage drinking will be discussed, but don't ignore the power of money.
3. A 10th on-field assistant: In April, the NCAA approved new legislation that allowed programs to add a 10th assistant to their staffs. That will go into effect in January of 2018 and it'll come up in conversation this week. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the discussion of staff sizes will be had with coaches and administrators, but SEC coaches seem to be in favor of that 10th assistant.
4. In-conference realignment: The SEC isn't likely going to discuss any sort of mass change to how the conference looks, but Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs recently said it would make sense for Auburn to move to the SEC Eastern Division. Former Auburn coach Pat Dye floated the idea and Jacobs backed the thought, as did coach Gus Malzahn.
Geographically, it would make sense. You just slide Missouri into the SEC West, and there you have it. Well, kind of. You'd have to consider permanent rivalries because there's no way the state of Alabama is giving up the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn. And imagine the outrage if you take Alabama-Tennessee off the yearly docket.
So, yeah, this isn't as easy as moving puzzle pieces around.