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SEC puzzles over college football playoff formats

SANDESTIN — By the end of this week's SEC Spring Meetings, commissioner Mike Slive said he hopes to take an official stand on the league's position concerning a football playoff.

"I think our league, what we need to decide while we're here is do we support the four-team playoff?" Slive said. "And I think, at least based on preliminary discussions, I know our coaches feel that way. Exactly how it's done, where it's done, is something to be determined."

The league's coaches, athletic directors, presidents and chancellors will decide myriad issues this week, including playoffs, and how best to handle football and basketball scheduling in its new 14-team league. Does the league stay at eight league games in football? Should conference champions be decided based on divisional play or remain in its current format where all league games count?

"All of that has to be resolved by our presidents and chancellors before we leave on Friday," Slive said.

While the potential football playoff is dominating discussions among football coaches, the basketball coaches are trying to determine what's best for their teams in the expanded SEC. The league has discussed an 18-game schedule, but developing a format is proving to be a difficult task.

The league ended divisional play last season, but Florida coach Billy Donovan said finding a viable solution to the expanded schedule will not be easy. "The whole thing becomes very, very complicated once you start bringing in other schools, trying to balance the schedule, trying to make it fair," Donovan said. "… Anything you throw out right now, model-wise, you're going to be able to poke holes through and say this is not right, this is better. I think you're going to have arguments on both sides."

BALL MAY RETURN: UF sophomore LB Neiron Ball has one last medical hurdle to clear in order to return from a near career ending injury. Ball missed last season after having surgery for a ruptured blood vessel on his brain. "He's still got to get through the roster-list clearings," coach Will Muschamp said. "I think he's got one more appointment with the doctor to clear up any last minute things, but I think he should be fine. He's in Gainesville."

Muschamp said he's also optimistic LB Ronald Powell will play this season after having surgery in late April for a torn ACL.

TUCKER ALL-CONFERENCE: Former Plant standout Preston Tucker is among four Gators honored as first-team All-SEC baseball selections, chosen by the league's coaches — the most since 1991. Tucker joined P/DH Brian Johnson, P Steven Rodriguez and C Mike Zunino on the first team. Junior SS Nolan Fontana was a second-team selection, and 3B Josh Tobias made the All-Freshman team. Tucker and Fontana have been All-SEC selections three times.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

SEC puzzles over college football playoff formats 05/29/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 9:45pm]
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