Top 10 Burning Questions on SEC Commissioner Mike Slive's Agenda
Mike Slive | Photo via Orlando Sentinel
SEC commissioner Mike Slive addressed the media today at SEC Media Days to officially start the SEC football season.
He addressed a number of issues and burning questions that surround the conference heading into 2012, but there are at least 10 questions that remain on Slive’s agenda.
The SEC is the gauge to which the other conferences look to as they form agendas and make moves to grow on the national scene. Mike Slive knows how huge the position is and has handled leading the conference very well.
The SEC is on top of the college football world heading into the 2012 season. How does Slive keep the conference there?
Here are 10 questions that are on the agenda for SEC commissioner Mike Slive as the season approaches.
How Can the New Playoff System Consistently Land Two SEC Teams?
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When the new playoff format for college football left winning conference championships off the prerequisite form for application—it is merely a criteria to use as a guide, not a necessity—Mike Slive didn’t get all he wanted, but the SEC still could land two teams in the playoffs.
Last year is a great example of what could happen in the future with the selection committee making decisions without firm guidelines like winning a conference title.
This obviously will favor the SEC, and Slive knows it—so does the rest of the country. Even though conference championships will have added value to help selection, not being a prerequisite for selection makes two SEC teams in the Final Four a reality.
Slive will do all he can to get two teams into the system—it appears that it could be an option for the conference in the future.
How Can the Champions Bowl Be a Landscape-Changing Move the SEC Is Known For?
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The SEC has been a groundbreaking conference in the past, and with the new addition of the Champions Bowl against the Big 12, it looks like Slive may have the conference making waves again on the national football scene.
With conference expansion coming later to the SEC than other conferences, Slive appeared to be taking a reaction-type approach instead of a landscape-changing stance.
The Champions Bowl can be a landscape-changing type of move—and looks to be—for the college football landscape. Slive hopes so.
If and when other conferences begin to announce game affiliations, the SEC will be handed the “we did it first” trophy—that will be great for the Slive legacy in the SEC. Other conferences will begin to make agreements this season, or they will stand the chance of missing out in a post-bowl postseason setup.
This question will be a big one on the agenda, as Slive will look to assist the self-fulfilling prophecy that other conferences will follow the new Champions Bowl model.
How Can the SEC Change the Negative Academics Image?
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There is no secret to the fact that the SEC does not traditionally carry a lot of weight on the academics front, despite the success that happens on the playing fields.
Slive even mentioned how far academics have come under his leadership at the podium during the start of Media Days, and the academics issue is one that is taken very seriously by the SEC and its member institutions. Growth has occurred in academics, but the opinion still exists that the conference is near the bottom of the pack for academic prowess.
The addition of both Texas A&M and Missouri boost the SEC’s scholastic outlook, but Slive needs to continue to push for more stringent policies and growth in the academic arena for the conference.
Yes, the conference has won a number of national titles in numerous sports in the past few seasons, but Mike Slive takes pride in academics—growth is still on the horizon for the conference in this area.
Where Can the SEC Take the NCAA Next?
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Mike Slive needs to put this on a post-it note and leave it on his mirror, so that he reads it every morning: Where can the SEC take the national college football scene next?
The SEC has always been on the cutting edge of college football and college sports development, but losing the conference expansion race made the conference appear to be just another conference in the landscape.
The SEC is a cut above the rest—as proven by the last six national titles—and helping develop new positive changes has to be at the forefront of Slive’s mind.
Helping develop changes does two things for the conference: It builds national prowess and helps tip the hat in the favor of the conference.
Slive won’t help build a change that doesn’t help his conference. Being out in front of future changes is a must for the conference and its commissioner.
Will the SEC Stay at the Top in 2012 by Winning a Seventh-Straight Title?
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The BCS era is drawing to a close, and the picture of change is becoming clearer with each passing day. With the era ending, Slive knows that the advantages that come with the BCS are going away—the conference needs to win more titles.
Can the SEC stay on top of the college football world by winning a seventh-straight title? Slive has to hope so and will do whatever he can to ensure that the conference lands in the title game before the BCS era closes.
The conference just had two teams play for the title, and with six-straight titles, the conference has been on an overly impressive tear. Winning another title—and seventh-straight—would secure the SEC as the most elite conference ever to be assembled in college football.
That’s a great thing when considering the future of the game and how selection committees will view the conference.
Was the Expansion Viable?
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The SEC took a long look at expansion before it made a move, eventually adding Texas A&M and Missouri.
Mike Slive has to look at this season as a trial run for viability for the two new teams inside the conference. Adding A&M and Missouri did great things for the conference academically, but on the athletic fields, there is a lot left to be proven.
Both the Aggies and Tigers are good teams, but the SEC is a different animal. Having even moderate success in year one will be a positive result for the new teams and the conference. It will also show that Slive made the right move.
Having teams come in and lose every game will not be looked upon favorably. The SEC wants to stay on top of the national stage, and the expansion was a big part of that. This season will show whether the decision was the right move or not for the conference.
Will the SEC Lead the Next Round of Expansions?
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Is more conference expansion on the horizon?
It appears that it would have to be, with Notre Dame playing independently and other conferences losing teams consistently. Could the SEC be looking to add new teams before the trend begins?
It would be a great move for Slive to begin to look into another expansion scenario that could favor the conference. With conferences like Conference USA and Sun Belt housing teams that want a shot at the playoffs, there will be teams looking to make a move.
Slive could be progressive and begin a new defection period as well as handpick teams if expansions are to come. This has to be something that is on the watch list for Mike Slive this fall.
How Can the SEC Make Its Network Stronger?
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The SEC has a large national following that scales coast to coast. Currently, SEC football games are carried on the SEC Network through an agreement with ESPN, Fox Sports and CBS. Should Mike Slive be looking to make the network stronger and possibly a standalone?
At this point, it appears that if the Big Ten can make a network happen—as well as the University of Texas—then the SEC should be able to. Despite ESPN appearing to be the de facto network for the conference, the SEC does not have the leverage it would by owning its own network.
Slive has to recognize that the SEC Network could be stronger, and finding a way to make that happen has to top the agenda. No matter how the games make it into households, it has to benefit the conference.
I would be willing to bet the house that programmers would be more than willing to carry a newly formed SEC Network. According to The Sporting News, this may be a move already in the works, with contracts ending with CBS and ESPN before the 2014 season.
Does the SEC Let the Dust Settle on the Playoff System or Push for More Change?
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At this point, a playoff system is the best move for college football and will not hurt the SEC and its run at titles in any way. Having a selection committee may actually favor the conference, but having only four teams allowed in hurts the SEC.
Adding two to four more teams to the playoff system would help the SEC earn possible at-large bids down the road once the playoffs are up and running. That won’t likely happen in the current system.
So Slive has to ask himself, does he push for more change to benefit the national scene—and his conference—by adding teams, or does he stay quiet? Look for more change on the horizon.
Where Do We Go Now?
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The SEC appears to be at the top of the game in college football. Slive knows it—so does the rest of the country—but the conference can’t quit while it is ahead.
The SEC has won a lot of championships, but pushing for more is the obvious goal. The “where do we go now” question isn’t easy to answer for Slive, considering the ridiculous success the conference has witnessed in the past few seasons.
Slive must be creative—beyond anyone’s imagination—to keep the conference from getting stale. It would seem difficult to get stale with the passion found at each school to win, but as the conference gets tougher, so does the national impact that the conference can make—for the better and for the worse.
Get creative, Mr. Slive. The conference needs you.