LSU, A&M permanent foes in basketball
By Scott Rabalais
June 13, 2012
DESTIN, Fla. — The LSU-Texas A&M rivalry is expected to take on an added meaning in men’s basketball.
LSU coach Johnny Jones and Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy both said the Tigers and Aggies will serve as each other’s permanent opponent under a scheduling format put forward by Southeastern Conference coaches at the 2012 SEC Spring Meeting.
The proposal is for an 18-team schedule with each school having a one permanent opponent that it would play home-and-home each season.
The remaining 12 teams would be divided into three groups of four, with a school playing one of those groups home-and-home each season before rotating to the next.
“I think it’s great to always have a rival,” Jones said. “One of the things that has separated LSU in the conference a little bit is we haven’t had a true built-in rival.”
Other likely permanent opponents in men’s basketball are Alabama-Auburn, Arkansas-Missouri, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Georgia-South Carolina and Kentucky-Florida.
On the women’s side …
LSU women’s coach Nikki Caldwell said the proposal on the women’s side is for a 16-game schedule that would also include a home-and-home with Texas A&M as the Lady Tigers’ permanent opponent.
Teams would also play two other teams home-and-home on a randomly selected basis, not repeating the two home-and-home opponents until a school has faced all 12.
Though A&M is a national power in women’s basketball, having just won the NCAA championship in 2011, Caldwell embraces the challenge.
“Now we’re in a state where the SEC has a presence,” she said. “Texas as a state is a recruiting hotbed for women’s basketball. It’s all in how you look at it.”
Caldwell left Destin for Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to join up with the USA Basketball U18 team for a training camp session at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Caldwell will be an assistant coach on the team this summer when it competes in Puerto Rico in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Miami (Fla.) coach Katie Meier is the head coach, while Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves will also serve as an assistant.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive left the SEC Spring Meeting to return to Birmingham on Wednesday night, where his daughter, Anna, was expected to deliver his first grandchild.
Slive hopes to return by Friday for the final day of the meeting, according to SEC spokesman Charles Bloom.
The last word
“Yeah, as long as the four best teams are playing. It doesn’t make any sense — I mean, why would you have a playoff if you’re not going to have the four best teams? Why would you push for it if you don’t get the best four teams?”
— Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen when asked if he supports the proposed four-team college football playoff