Mike Slive's Status as SEC Commissioner Rests on Further Cementing His Legacy

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Mike Slive's Status as SEC Commissioner Rests on Further Cementing His Legacy
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SEC commissioner Mike Slive

The most powerful man in college sports may be hanging up the briefcase soon.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive's contract expires in the summer of 2014, and the 72-year-old is undecided if that will mark the end of his career according to AL.com.

"I have another year to go in my current agreement, and at some point this year we'll sit down and have a conversation and see where we go from there," Slive said.

Slive's legacy is safe. With seven straight BCS National Championships, he has led the conference into its most prosperous time in history on the gridiron.

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SEC commissioner Mike Slive

On the bottom line, he's been even more successful.

The conference doled out $101.9 million to its member institutions following his first season as commissioner in 2003. Ten years later, the conference distributed $289.4 million, added four top-31 Nielsen television markets with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri, completed one landmark media rights deal in 2008 and extended it through 2034 with the addition of the two new schools.

Not a bad way to close out a professional resume.

But there are a still a few remaining issues that remain on his plate.

"There were certainly big things in my 'A pile'," he told AL.com. "The expansion, the (SEC) network and the BCS and modeling that out to how we hoped it would come out."

Kelly Lambert
SEC commissioner Mike Slive

 

So, to put it more simply, Slive wants to add a little more cement to his legacy to ensure not just the long-term health of the SEC, but college football as a whole.

The SEC Network, which Slive cleverly referred to as "Project X" for about a year before it was announced, will become a reality in August 2014. Making sure the structure, distribution and programming meet his vision obviously is important. But by the time the decision to stay or go needs to be made, most of those questions will be either answered or close enough.

The modeling of the College Football Playoff (CFP) is one big domino remaining on Slive's table, and is something that is important to him personally.

He has advocated a four-team playoff since 2007, when he told the New York Times that he favored a seeded "plus-1," which is essentially how the four-team playoff starting after the 2014 season is formatted.

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SEC commissioner Mike Slive (right) with former Florida QB Tim Tebow

Protecting the SEC's place in it is important, but ensuring that the four-team playoff is structured according to his vision is something that matters to him on a much larger scale.

Who will be on the playoff committee? How long will their terms be? What safeguards can be installed to prevent the playoff from expanding beyond four teams, regardless of how the college football landscape shifts? Will the $4,000 full cost of attendance stipend be implemented?

These are questions that directly impact Slive's vision of college football's future, and he's going to see them through.

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The SEC will be fine.

Enough groundwork has been laid so that Slive's successor—whoever it is—will have plenty of guidance and support to keep the conference headed in the direction Slive pointed it.

But the college football landscape is different.

With so many chefs in the kitchen, Slive has emerged as the one who has all the right recipes. There's no guarantee—and it's almost an impossibility—that his successor will carry the same clout.

Slive's decision to stay beyond 2014 or hit the golf course on a regular basis depends on whether he can ensure that his successor doesn't have to over the next 12 months.

 

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