Slive Talks Scheduling, Playoffs, and More

Mike Slive

Destin, Fla. — One of the biggest talking points surrounding college athletics this spring has been the continued expansion of conferences and the ultimate forming of super conferences with 16 or more teams.

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive talked about that subject, the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to the league, scheduling with 14 teams and much more at the SEC Meetings on Tuesday.

"We were satisfied at 12," Slive said. "We were not aggressively looking to expand. We were very successful at 12. It's a good number to work with, but when institutions of the quality of Texas A&M and Missouri come calling, when you think about the long-term horizon, this isn't about who's going to win this fall or the next winter. This is about how do you make sure your league is strong and what it is today, 10 years from now and 20 years from now.

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"When you take the long-term horizon and you have the opportunity to get schools of this quality, they are both AAU schools and join Florida and Vanderbilt in that category," he added. "They both have broad base traditions and not just football and basketball, but in all sports like we do.

"Of course, they have fan support and fan passion and fan loyalty. They are very much like us. When that opportunity, came we went to 14. We are no more in an aggressive expansion mode than we were when we were 12. As far as we're concerned, at the moment we're not looking to get any bigger."

In addition to expansion, one of the hot topics continues to be a four-team playoff to determine the national champion in Division I football. With the BCS on the way out, Slive said the biggest question now is how things will work. That may be determined in the coming days and weeks as conferences begin to talk about it and decide what they like.

"As we're trying to work our way through the BCS and the postseason, what is it going to look like?" Slive asked. "I don't know the answer to that. I've said publicly that I think a four-team playoff makes sense. That's the first part and then how you do it is a whole other story.

"In late April after our annual BCS meetings all of the commissioners agreed to take the four-team playoff models to the various conferences and see where we come out. We're just very much in the preliminary stages of evaluating it. We'll use the week to figure out what we think we want. I'll be able to take that to the meetings."

No matter what direction it takes, one thing is for sure -- the SEC has taken care of itself already in terms of a postseason game. The SEC made an agreement with the Big 12 that the two league champions, or the next best representatives, would play in the postseason if they weren't in the top four playoff. Slive said that was just a matter of protecting his league and making sure the SEC got the best deal it could negotiate.

"We realized there was going to be a change in the postseason," Slive said. "We've had some discussions with the Big 12 over the years about doing a game like that, particularly if the BCS changed or wasn't going to be the way it is. We knew there was going to be a change this time. It seemed to be the opportune time to sit down and seriously talk about it.

"It has been met with enthusiasm and excitement on the part of fans everywhere," he added. "The uniqueness of it is that we didn't do this with a bowl or with television. Two conferences came together and said we were going to play our champions and we would decide where to play it. We would decide who was going to televise it. We're going to manage it and do what's in the best interests of our respective conferences.

"Now the question is where do we play it and when do we play it? We're taking our time because we want to see how the BCS works through its issues as to whether this game would be inside the BCS or outside the BCS. Even though there are a lot of questions yet to be answered, the public acceptance of this game has been significant."

In the immediate future for the SEC one of the biggest issues is scheduling, not only for football but every sport across the board. Slive said that's something he and his staff are dealing with along with the help of a transition team from the league.

"One of my staff members said it perfectly," Slive pointed out. "When you put an addition on your house it's messy for a while. That's exactly what we have. How do you schedule? How do you educate two institutions on a new culture, new rules, new regulations? It has been going well. It's going to take some time. We're closing in now on our scheduling with our transition team.

"We hope to finish up our formatting because there's a difference between format and schedule," he added. "I think we're going to take a recommendation from our athletic directors to our presidents and chancellors later in the week on a football format. In basketball we've already gone to 18 games. We've got to work our way through that. I think we're closer to the end than we were a couple of months ago."

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