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Slive Chats About Realignment, TV, Playoffs And More

mike-slive-smiling-bigFirst, a hat tip to the ever-excellent Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News who drove across Jefferson County to take in a Mike Slive speaking engagement in Trussville, Alabama yesterday.  After the event, Solomon was able to collect some quotes from the SEC commissioner on a wide range of topics.

Slive’s comments — and our thoughts on those quotations — are below…


Slive On conference realignment:

“One thing I can’t do is speak for anybody else.  I can only speak for us.  As I look ahead and prepare agendas for some of our meetings in the future, that is not an agenda item, at least for us, at the moment.”

Our take:  “At the moment” is the standout phrase, obviously.  You’d better believe there is back-channel communication going on between multiple schools and multiple conferences these days.  The SEC is involved in some of that, too.  Slive is way too shrewd to sit back and watch without preparing for future shake-ups.

Asked if any schools had contacted the SEC about joining, Slive said, “You know, I’m not going to tell you… all due respect.”


Slive on the SEC’s television plans:

“We think we’re getting closer and closer to doing what we want to do in the long-term future of our television package.  Hopefully, within the relatively near future, we’ll be able to tell you something publicly.”

Our take:  It’s kind of hard to finalize television deals when no one knows what schools will be in which conferences moving forward.  The SEC itself could expand which would likely change the league’s geographic footprint, its sphere of media influence, and the amount of money its content is worth (depending on the brands added and the locations involved).  There’s also the matter of what other leagues will look like and how much their media rights will be worth… which could/should impact SEC negotiations.  If the SEC announces new TV deals anytime soon, it will likely be announcing what are in fact place-holder deals.


Slive on the number of conference games his league will play:

“Obviously, in order to be innovative and creative and thoughtful and ahead of the curve, it’s our job in the conference office to think ahead.  So we might be thinking ahead.  But right now the overwhelming majority of folks want to stay at the 6-1-1.”

Our take:  Slive’s suggestion that the conference off might be thinking ahead suggests that the league’s power brokers — as we’ve noted many times — realize a nine-game schedule will make more sense in terms of television content, in terms of strength of schedule, in terms of actually filling stadiums, and in terms of preserving rivalries.  When the league finally moves to nine will be determined by expansion and the aforementioned television negotiations.


Slive on getting two SEC teams into the new football playoff:

“If you watched Georgia play this past year and you watched Alabama play, it would be hard-pressed to say that Georgia isn’t one of the top four teams in the country, right?  So you hope that you have a committee that understands if Georgia plays in our championship game and loses a close game, they’d still realize the quality of that game by playing the team that turned out to be the best team.  We hope all that works out well, but we’ll see.”

Our take:  Bet Florida fans perked up upon reading that one.  The 11-1 Gators received a BCS bid this past year following Georgia’s SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama.  That despite the fact that the Bulldogs beat the Gators head-to-head.  Granted, that was a bowl committee doing the picking and it took the team with fewer losses, but will a new selection committee see things much differently?  Think there wouldn’t be some debate about a two-loss team getting in over a one-loss team?

Obviously, Slive is correct to “hope” that a team won’t be penalized for playing in a title game, but that’ll be up to the folks on a selection panel after 2014.  And we still wonder if there won’t be members of that committee who go into the process with the goal of picking four schools from four different conferences.  Slive seems to have more faith in the process and in the yet-to-be-formed committee than we do.


Slive on the new Sugar Bowl:

“All of us have admired the Rose Bowl for many years — its great tradition, its great place on the calendar, and the window that it has.  So now starting in 2015, ladies and gentlemen, you can relax, you can sit down, you can watch the Rose Bowl as a lead-in to the Sugar Bowl.  We’re thinking 10, 20, 30 years from now that our Sugar Bowl will have the same kind of tradition as the Rose Bowl, and I think that’s very, very important for us as we move ahead.”

Our take:  Slive just told Jim Delany that the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl is soon to be nothing more than a delicious hors d’oeuvre.  Ouch.  Ever notice that Delany fires broadsides at the SEC and comes across as a joyless old coot as a result?  Slive delivers the occasional dig back but he does so with a bit of smarm.  “Here, have this nice cigar.”  Then, BANG, the El Explodo he’s handed over goes off in the smoker’s face.  Much funnier.

On a larger point, Slive clearly views his league’s Sugar Bowl partnership with the Big XII as being a long-term marriage.  We’ve written numerous times now that the two leagues could and should create a stronger partnership — through perhaps a scheduling alliance — in order to create the type of relationship the Big Ten and Pac-12 enjoy.  Doing so would allow the SEC and Big XII to further lock up the Southern United States while also locking out the Big Ten and Pac-12.

The best recruits are in the South.  The nation’s population is shifting to the South.  Other non-Southern leagues are hoping to tap into the South.  By partnering with the Big XII in a few areas, Slive would be aiding Bob Bowlsby’s league, yes.  But the SEC can have an advantage over three or four rivals… or it can have an advantage over one rival and a big advantage over all the rest.

There were four Beatles and they all made lots and lots and lots of money.  They each had fans and their names are all legengdary.  But the majority of Beatles songs were credited to “Lennon-McCartney” and they pocketed more cash than the others.  The SEC and Big XII should pair up to promote themselves as being the John and Paul to the Big Ten’s George, the Pac-12′s Ringo, and the ACC’s Pete Best.  (Look it up.)






I know you believe (and I agree with you) that we are eventually headed to towards a new football super-division where the Big 4 conferences will play.


Under that scenario, how do you see the playoffs evolving ?


I believe we'll see the Rose and Sugar become semi-finals for the super-division, with the CCGs acting as a round of 8.


The money for the Rose and Sugar as semis would be astronomical, and CCGs would spike in value if they were the first round of a win or go home playoff.


Also- with only four conferences in the super-division, there will be a huge amount of pressure for each conference winner being in the playoffs.  That way, every team in the super-division has a direct and legitimate shot at getting into the playoff by winning their conference, with no polls or politics to keep a team out.  


"Win you conference and you're in" is something most non-SEC fans' want to see, and I'd think tv excs would also like to see that setup, as it would maximize ratings. 


Combine that with the huge money and the New Year's Day tradition and it seems the most likely outcome to me.


What are your thoughts ?



Keep up the great work on realignment.  You've been on a roll for quite a while now.








PS- Slive does know how to deliver a good jab.  I got a chuckle out of the "Rose Bowl as a lead-in" comment.   No matter which game is seen as more important in a particular year, though, the Rose and Sugar back to back on NYD is going to be great.  And if the the Rose and Sugar are semis, then NYD will be up there with Super Bowl Sunday.

Jim Z
Jim Z

Yeah that 10 team conference with Frog Helmet, Baylor, 2 Kansas schools, Iowa State and West Virginia is really "Paul".  Meanwhile the Big Ten is George.  Hmmm yeah sounds right.  I mean Big Ten money and prestige and historical influence makes Big 12 look like Pete Best (I didn't have to look it up).  


Get out.  Trash, trash, trash.  Your gimmick rotating Sugar Bowl with Alabama beating Kansas State 70-0 in the murder capital of the South (N.O.) is not traditional and never will be.  You can't make a trashier version of the Rose Bowl and call it Paul and John.  Pro-SEC doesn't have to mean bad analogies nowhere close to accurate with ANY sample size (I know you SEC folks just love your 7 sample size and your iron clad view that this Southern population boom will continue for infinity completely ignoring the fact that is just a trend like any other).

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Jim Z 


First, that was a reference to football success in the BCS era.  No leagues have put more teams in the BCS title game than the SEC and Big XII.   That would pretty clearly make them the John and Paul of the BCS era.


Second, you might want to share with Jim Delany your views on the Southern population boom.  He's the one who's mentioned it time and again:  "In the last 20 years there has been a clear shift of movement into the Sun Belt. The rates of growth in the Sun Belt are four times the rate in the East or the Midwest. That has demographic meaning long term for the economy, for jobs, for recruitment of students, for recruitment of athletes, for recruitment of faculty, for tax base."



Sorry if that throws cold water on your rant,



With only 4 schools making it, I would also gamble on champions from 4 different conferences being the selections.  Based on that, playing 9 or 8 games may be a moot point as the SEC will have one of the seats at the table regardless of the league schedule.  I doubt they'll ever have 2 regardless of what they do until the number of teams is increased to 6 or 8 or more.  Along with that, in a 4 team scenario it doesn't really matter whether you're #1 or #4 because you have an equal shot either way.


Speaking of champions getting in, this is another reason the ACC is unstable actually because they will not be among the top 4 league champions on any sort of regular basis.


 @AllTideUp I doubt you would have the four champions in the playoffs. This past year neither Wisconsin or Florida State were better choices than Florida, Georgia or Oregon, and everyone recognized that. Lets go back a few years and list the top 4 BSC teams and the Big 5 conference champs not in the top 4:


2012 - #1 Notre Dame #2 Alabama #3 Florida #4 Oregon are in - #5 Kansas State #6 Stanford #12 Florida State and Wisconsin (unranked) are out

2011 - #1 LSU #2 Alabama #3 Oklahoma State #4 Stanford are in  - #15 Clemson and #10 Wisconsin are out.

2010 - #1 Auburn #2 Oregon #3 TCU #4 Stanford are in  - #5 Wisconsin and #13 VT are out

2009 - #1Alabama #2 Texas #3 Cincinatti #4 TCU are in - #7 Oregon #8 OSU #9 Georgia Tech are out

2008 - #1 Florida #2 Oklahoma #3 Texas #4 Alabama are in - #5 USC #8 Penn State #19 VT are out

2007 - #1 OSU #2 LSU #3 VT #4 Oklahoma are in - #7 USC is out

2006 - #1 OSU #2 Florida #3 Michigan #4 LSU are in - #5 USC #14 Wake Forest are out


Since 2006, only one year, 2007, produced four different conference champions in the BSC top 4. There should be some consideration for winning a conference championship, but automatic bids would not be a good thing.



I agree that automatic bids would be a bad thing, but I do believe the goal of the committee will be to diversify the spots as much as possible. 


One of my points was that the ACC would be left out so I agree that FSU wouldn't have gotten a spot last year.  It's also possible that Wisconsin would have been overlooked, but that was a unique situation.  Had OSU been eligible they would have taken that spot.  Kansas St would have been given the nod last year as a one-loss conference champion.  The Big 12 is still considered one of the top 4 so that would give them additional credibility.  Notre Dame, Alabama, Kansas St, and probably Stanford would have been given the nod last year.  While Oregon was one of the top teams, they still lost out on the conference championship to Stanford.  They also lost head-to-head in the regular season.  I don't think there's any way Oregon goes over Stanford in that scenario.  As a rule, I highly doubt that one school will be given the nod over the champion from the same league regardless of any other circumstances.  That would be like giving UGA the spot over Alabama last year. 


You have to  remember as well that the polls we've been accustomed to won't really mean anything anymore.  It will be up to the selection committee and whatever criteria they decide to use.


John certainly does write interesting material.


"Obviously, Slive is correct to “hope” that a team won’t be penalized for playing in a title game, but that’ll be up to the folks on a selection panel after 2014.  And we still wonder if there won’t be members of that committee who go into the process with the goal of picking four schools from four different conferences.  Slive seems to have more faith in the process and in the yet-to-be-formed committee than we do."


I still agree to this.  When you only have 2 teams (out of 14) to play in the title team, you should NOT punish the loser of the title game if their record matches the 2nd place team in their division.  It was a grey area of debate this season if Georgia should have received a BCS bowl because of that exact reason.


I'm thinking that the way the playoffs will work is that they'll choose the conf. champions in their selections.....until it expands past 4 teams.

The regular guy
The regular guy

@John -- ACC as Pete Best!  Funny, very funny.  And the Big East would be Brian Epstein.


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