First, 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.)