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Slive Talks Scheduling And Television

In a quick Q&A session with The Memphis Commercial-Appeal, SEC commissioner Mike Slive opened up — sort of — about some of the major issues on fans’ minds these days.  We say “sort of,” because as Slive is wont to do, he didn’t make many definitive statements.

On setting up the SEC new football schedules, Slive opened with one of his favorite lines:

“The First Amendment is alive and well in the SEC.  When we put together this year’s 2012 schedule including our two new members, time was of the essence.  It was very complicated, and I was proud that every athletic director had to give something.  It wasn’t easy, but in the final analysis, we got it scheduled.

Looking ahead, each institution is trying to figure out how to protect their interests, but also what’s in the best interest of the league to help us maintain the success we’ve had.  Some rivalries have been lost nationwide in expansion, and we value rivalries.  Protecting rivalries is something we clearly want to do.  Our goal is get the scheduling done before Destin.”

Two things stand out there.  First, Slive’s comments about protecting rivalries seem to go hand-in-hand with the leaked word that permanent cross-divisional rivalries will remain a part of the SEC’s new format.

Second, Slive makes it clear he wants the schedule set before the SEC Meetings at the end of May.  Perhaps that’s because the league has other business to attend to and he doesn’t want to spend those few days at the beach hammering out future football schedules.  If that’s the case, then we hope the commissioner is currently providing behind-the-scenes “suggestions” to his league’s athletic directors that they put the league first in their decisions.  We’ve said here before that ADs tend to put their own interests first.  The commissioner and the SEC’s presidents are the ones who usually put league-first.  And whatever decision is finally made with regards to scheduling, it needs to be made with league-first motivations.

Regarding the SEC’s projected expansion-related television windfall, Slive said:

“We have started discussions with both our television partners (CBS and ESPN).  We feel adding Texas A&M and Missouri has strengthened us in lots of ways, but it certainly strengthened us in television.”

Big money’s coming, folks.  As we wrote last week, if a weakened Big 12 can make itself additional cash, imagine what a “strengthened” SEC can do at the negotiating table.

In addition to discussing a possible playoff — Slive calls it a “Plus-One” and won’t even say playoff — and possible new bowl partners, the commish was also asked if Memphis would be considered for a future SEC Tournament:

“We’re open for 2017 and 2019, and we try to stay five years ahead.  St. Louis also wants to bid.  We’d certainly welcome Memphis’ interest.  Any city interested should apply.  We don’t have a permanent home, and part of that is intentional.  People like basketball arenas, so we try to work as many arenas in as possible besides going to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.”

Why the SEC can’t cut a deal to play at Philips Arena in Atlanta — as the ACC just did for its tourney — is still a question we have.  But this seems to re-open the SEC Tournament door for the Bluff City, even though its most recent bid was rejected or pulled before being rejected.



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