The big takeaways from commissioner Mike Slive's opening session:
* We knew the drive for autonomy would come up and the commissioner didn't disappoint. He once again -- as he did during the SEC Meetings this spring -- made it clear that if the NCAA doesn't play ball and grant the top conferences the power to rule themselves, a new grouping would need to be created.
"It is critical for the NCAA to change in accordance with the vision proposed by the Five Conferences," Slive said. Rather than referring to the Power Five as it's been called in the press, Slive consistently referred to "the Five Conferences" throughout his speech, making it clear that we're really only talking about five conferences. The "Power Five" suggests there are weaker leagues. The "Five Conferences" makes it sound as though the are no other conferences of consequence. (Somewhere the AAC presidents weep as they want so badly to make it the "Six Conferences.")
Quoting Muhammad Ali, Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela -- the man's either well read or he bought one of those "1001 Quotes To Use In Speeches" books -- Slive hammered home the notion that a new organization will have to be created if the NCAA membership votes against autonomy for the Five Conferences.
"We will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact changes in the best interest of our student-athletes." Referencing the August 7th vote, Slive simply said: "We will know soon."
Slive didn't mention the term "Division IV" which leaves open the possibility of the Five Conferences -- oh, what am I doing? -- the Power Five leaving the NCAA altogether. That's a helluva threat, but we think there's more bark than bite in that one. Perhaps Slive and his fellow commissioners feel they can break away in football only, but even that would be difficult. What's much more likely is a new Division IV within the current NCAA structure, above Division I.
People expected red meat from the SEC commissioner. He delivered.
* Slive made a "commercial pitch" as he called it, asking fans to visit "GetSECNetwork.com." He also said conversations with cable/satellite-providers not currently signed on for the SEC Network are ongoing. The new channel launches one month from today.
* Slive managed to take a little dig at the Big Ten (though he'd surely deny it). See what you think about the statement he made regarding the new SEC/Big 12 co-run Sugar Bowl: "The Sugar Bowl will run in primetime with the Rose Bowl as a lead-in." Translation: We're the main course; they're the hors d'oeuvre.