Mike Slive spoke at Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 1

 

I enjoyed hearing Mike Slive speak at the Little Rock Touchdown Club. His delivery was not that flashy but I could tell that he was doing a great job for the SEC. Here is the article below from Jim Harris.

 

Jim Harris: Slive Only Offers Hints To An SEC Future That Rivals Last Decade

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10/22/2012 at 3:14pm

Mike Slive had a laundry list of impressive accomplishments achieved during his decade of running the Southeastern Conference. What lies ahead for the SEC is quite a bit vague, but the commissioner indicated Monday that the good times should continue to roll.

“We may look back and say we were a witness of a golden age in SEC athletics,” he said in addressing the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

Slive’s stopover in Little Rock and the Embassy Suites was exactly that — literally a puddle jump before a quick return to the league office in Birmingham, Ala., where the SEC continues to work out its future television rights.

With the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri in creating a 14-team league this fall, the SEC has more to offer.

“We are in deep negotiations with ESPN and CBS now,” he said.

Slive insisted with a simple “no” that the sports network powers are not insisting on a nine-game conference schedule for each league team, though an additional SEC game instead of a nonconference creampuff would seem to make that TV contract even more valuable.

It also would allow more opportunities for teams to see more opponents on a regular basis from the opposite division. The current 6-1-1 schedule structure (six common division opponents, one annual common interdivisional game and a rotating interdivisional game) developed out of the SEC’s spring meeting in Destin, Fla.

“We want to keep an open mind, and if it’s in the best interest of the teams,” Slive said. “There are a lot of different options before you went to nine (game schedule).”

After trying to come up with a 2013 schedule with new rival games, including Arkansas playing Missouri of the SEC East annually instead of South Carolina, the league chose to go with a stand-alone, one-year schedule again, as it did in 2012, Slive said. Nonconference contracts were the big issue, he said, as some teams were locked in for 2013 and made the league changes impractical for one more year.

So, Arkansas and Missouri seem more likely to begin meeting regularly in 2014. But Slive didn’t promise anything.

That season will also herald the beginning of a four-team national college football playoff, which Slive has advocated since 2004, when undefeated Auburn was denied a spot in the BCS Championship Game because Southern Cal and Oklahoma also were unbeaten.

Also, the SEC and the Big 12 will begin their Champions Bowl, to be played Jan. 1 the night following the Rose Bowl.

“As I tell my friends at the Rose Bowl, ‘We’re glad to have you as a lead-in game to our game,’ ” he said smiling, and the rest of the room joined in on the laugh.

Other than that, Slive was his typical lawyerly, dry self, happy to note the accomplishments of the SEC since he took over from Roy Kramer, and also to point out all that had changed in the five years since he last addressed the Touchdown Club.

He said the SEC was happy with 12 teams before this year, but Texas A&M came calling and Missouri followed, and the league looked long-term. But Slive said there was never a “number” the SEC looked at as the right number of teams.

“Does it strengthen us for the long term? Yes,” he said of expanding to 14 schools.

In the past 10 years, the SEC has seen 62 teams crowned national champions in 16 of the 20 sports the league sponsors. In 2011-12 alone, the league boasted nine national titlists and seven runners-up, and Slive added that five of the nine champions were women’s programs.

Since he came on board, Slive said, “the hiring of minority coaches is no longer a story in the conference.” The league was “buffeted” by compliance problems through 2002, but that is no longer the case.

He tries to keep “Project X,” or what is now called “Project SEC” secret until all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed, but while the commissioner avoids discussing it, Project SEC is thought to be a new, vast SEC television network.

Already, 450 events are scheduled for TV on ESPN, CBS and two regional partners. Slive said the league’s goal “is greater access and more opportunity to see SEC rivals.”

When the SEC gets around to making Missouri and Arkansas rivals for football — they play twice in basketball this winter — is yet to be firmed up.

Email: jharris@abpg.com. Also follow Jim on Twitter @jimharris360

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