DESTIN (AP) — The Southeastern Conference is looking out for No. 1. Maybe even No. 2. Football coaches from the powerhouse and recently expanded league are in unison that they want a proposed four-team playoff to include the best teams in the country — and not be tied to conference champions. Their solidarity came as no surprise, considering the league has won six consecutive national championships, with the latest one coming when Alabama knocked off LSU after not winning its division or making the league title game.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has been a driving force for years behind a proposed playoff and remains as committed as anyone to getting it done this summer.
The playoff system could debut as early as the 2014 season, replacing a current No.1 vs. No. 2 BCS championship matchup that has rotated among the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Rose Bowl sites.
Slive said the league also will settle on a format for football following the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, with teams likely to play six division games, maintain one cross-division rival and alternate an eighth conference game among the other six teams from the opposing division.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney has said the new format shouldn't include a team that doesn't win its conference division — an obvious reference to national champion and SEC West runner-up Alabama.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is pushing to have two semifinal games played at campus stadiums, which seems to address the concerns of playoff opponents who say that such a system would lessen the importance of the regular season.
After all, that would reward the two highest-seeded teams with a home game — a huge incentive and major advantage.