SEC commissioner Mike Slive
The future format of the SEC football schedule remains to be a hot topic at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., and as of now, the future remains blurry.
Bridge schedules will likely exist in 2014 and 2015. But beyond that, the debate is heated about what the conference will do.
SEC coaches had their say on Wednesday. According to LSU head coach Les Miles (via: CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler), the vote was "unanimous."
Les Miles said coaches unanimously in favor of eight-game schedule by 13-1 count. Only guy for nine is Saban— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) May 29, 2013
Never change, Les. Never change.
Aside from Alabama's Nick Saban, the coaches are unified in their desire to keep the eight-game schedule. But don't be tricked into thinking their votes matter.
However, it isn't just the coaches who are against the nine-game schedule, the SEC's athletic directors are too, according to Clay Travis of OutKickTheCoverage.com.
Florida AD Foley says most SEC ADs agree with the coaches, don't want 9 conference games.— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) May 29, 2013
So if an overwhelming majority of coaches and athletic directors are in favor of an eight-game schedule, why are we even having this discussion?
Simple. It's because of commissioner Mike Slive.
What Slive wants, he gets.
Travis speculated that Saban is politicking for the nine-game schedule on Slive's behalf. There may be some truth to that. But it's clear that SOMEBODY with power other than Saban is firmly in the nine-game camp, and it's Slive.
He wants what he feels is in the best long-term interest of his conference, and the future format of the conference's football schedule will have a big impact on the bottom line long after Slive retires. It's part of his legacy.
Slive isn't interested in appeasing coaches or even athletic directors. They come and go in the world of college athletics. With the conference now heavily involved in the programming business, thanks to the creation of the SEC Network, a ninth conference game would be a good business decision.
It also could be forced on the SEC by the new College Football Playoff selection committee. The criteria used to determine playoff participants remains up in the air, which is why the SEC is bridging the schedule gap for now.
Remaining steadfast in his long-term goal isn't new for Slive. It's how he operates, which is a big reason why he's been so successful in his current post.
In 2011, SEC coaches voted to keep the per year scholarship cap at 28, but the cap was dropped to 25 after Slive met with the presidents.
Is Mike Slive the driving force behind the push to go to a nine-game SEC schedule?
He was at the forefront of the creation of the college football playoff, advocating a four-team seeded playoff system as far back as 2007. Sure enough, we will have that exact system following the 2014 season.
Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany have been leading the charge to include a $2,000 full-cost-of-attendance stipend to bridge the gap between what an athletic scholarship covers and the true cost of attending college.
Measures to implement that stipend have hit roadblocks, but Slive has made no bones about how important it is to him, going so far as to say that an "alternate division" may be an alternative if the proposal isn't passed.
With so much drama at the SanDestin Hilton this week, it appears that many of the big names are on the same page against the nine-game schedule. Those votes won't matter, though, because Slive will get what he wants. Judging from the events this offseason and the quotes coming from the spring meetings, it's clear he wants a nine-game conference schedule.