Mike Slive began his address to the gathered media hordes by thanking his wife on this the day of their anniversary. He rattled off the expected list of national championships, academic honor rolls, and various other accolades and laurels upon which to rest.
Job well done, and all is well with the SEC. Carry on with the status quo gentlemen.
But one does not take the most powerful conference in the country to unimagined heights of success and profitability by taking things as they come at you. Slive then proceeded to lay out his vision for the upcoming years as college football enters new territory with the creation of a playoff and the potential restructuring of the NCAA. Here are some highlights:
The SEC will continue with its current 8 game conference schedule, presumably with the same cross-divisional rivalries already in place. In addition, teams will be required to play at least one non-conference game per season against a team from the four major other conferences: ACC, B1G, Pac-12, Big XII. This should relieve any concerns about strength of schedule unless you play the Big XII.
The Sugar Bowl will be positioned to a prime time slot on New Year's Day. Selection of SEC teams will be in this order: College Football Playoff, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl (some years), and Capital One Bowl. After those selections are made the Belk Bowl, AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Outback Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, and AdvoCare Texas Bowl will have SEC teams assigned to them by the conference - the reverse of the classic system of the bowl selecting the teams. This flies in the face of the GBH recommended system of requiring a representative from each bowl to engage in a fight to the death, tentatively called the Kraft Fight Hunger Games.
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Rest assured, there are ongoing conversations with other major providers.
DirecTV, we only want to love you. Come on in, the water is fine and the kool-aid is 10% less than a lethal dose.
This was clearly the issue Slive wanted to be the key point of his address. He stressed the importance of prioritizing the education and academics of our student-athletes - a term he conspicuously used several times. The commissioner went on to describe the vision that the SEC, along with the B1G, ACC, PAC-12, and Big XII, have for a future NCAA governing system which allows more autonomy for those conferences "for the benefit of student-athletes". This would include, among other things, increased health and wellness support for athletes and scholarships linked to sport attendance rather than cost of living. Slive brought things to a boil by stating,
As I have said before, if we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student-athletes.
Slive has the nukes, please don't make him use them.
Final historical quote tally: Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and a story about how his anniversary is the same as that of a homerun hit by Hank Aaron. BINGO