Alleva: LSU-Wisconsin football season opener ‘very close’

It’s been talked about for weeks, but LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Wednesday that an LSU-Wisconsin football season opener in 2014 at Reliant Stadium in Houston is “a 95 percent” done deal.

A return game at the Green Bay Packers’ historic Lambeau Field “is a real possibility,” though Alleva said a year for that game has yet to be determined.

Alleva said the game at Lambeau would also be a season opener.

“The contract is not signed, but it’s very, very close,” Alleva said during day two of the Southeastern Conference Spring Meeting.

The series would satisfy LSU’s deep-seated desire to play a game in Houston, the center of LSU’s largest out-of-state alumni base and a perennially fertile recruiting ground for the Tigers.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin has reportedly been seeking a quality opponent for a game at Lambeau Field for some time.

“I’ve talked to a lot of our fans, and our fans will go to Lambeau Field,” Alleva said. “And it will be a great experience for our players.”

LSU and Wisconsin have played only twice in football. The Tigers won 38-28 in Madison, Wis., in 1971 and 27-7 in Tiger Stadium in 1972.

LSU hasn’t played football in Houston since a 1983 game at Rice.

8 games 13, Saban 1

SEC football coaches voted 13-1 Wednesday in favor of retaining an eight-game conference schedule.

The lone dissenter: Alabama’s Nick Saban, who Tuesday reiterated his support for a nine-game schedule.

Saban would like to see SEC teams play six divisional opponents, two rotating opponents from the other division and one permanent opponent from the other division.

Whether or not to retain permanent opponents has been one of the major sticking points in trying to create a long-term scheduling format for the conference.

Several coaches said their room was split evenly on whether to retain permanent opponents or not.

“It’s not even the Florida game,” said LSU coach Les Miles, who would like to see his Tigers’ annual game with the Gators played on only a rotating basis. “We just look at the long-term view of scheduling and the inequities of playing a locked-in permanent opponent and compounding that year after year. That does not necessarily give the same path to the championship for every member institution.”

So when, then?

Alleva said the SEC was “very close” to being able to announce a 2014 conference schedule by Friday, the final day of the spring meeting, but Commissioner Mike Slive was less optimistic.

“Possible, but doubtful,” Slive said.

“One of the issues is people went ahead and scheduled nonconference games, and we scheduled around that. That will change. We still have a few things to move around, but we are a little closer today than I thought we would be this week.”

Naming names

During Wednesday’s meetings, Slive asked member schools to submit names for consideration to be part of the selection committee when the College Football Playoff begins with the 2014 season.

Those names will be collected Friday and given to CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock, who is in attendance this week.

Hancock has said the committee will likely include 12 to 18 members. Alleva, who serves on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, said that group has 10 members.

Miles said he would like to see CFP selection committee members be paid to make their work a full-time job.

“I think it’s got to be a salaried position, not a good ol’ boy situation,” Miles said.

“You need someone to say, ‘That team doesn’t deserve to be in the national championship. I know they’re undefeated, but they’re not good enough. That team there, they’re a one-loss team, and they should be one of the four teams.’”

LSU publications lauded

LSU’s 2012 football media guide, game program and game program cover have all been voted “Best in the Nation” by the College Sports Information Directors organization.

It’s the first time LSU has swept first place in all three categories.

LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette edited the media guide with the assistance of associate SIDs Bill Martin and Jake Terry. Senior Associate SID Bill Franques edited the game program.

LSU’s Steve Franz coordinated photography for the media guide and program, which were designed under the direction of Jason Feirman of the LSU Publications Office.

The last word

“It falls well below picking a champion and being right and fair and straightforward. It falls below financial considerations. If there is a first criteria of a conference, it is to schedule so each member has a path to a championship.”

— Miles on where fan interest should fall in schedule debate pecking order