ESPN and the Southeastern Conference formally announced Thursday the creation of the SEC Network. It will launch in 2014 and the two entities have extended their media rights agreement through 2034. Some highlights of the announcement:
Mike Slive had a laundry list of impressive accomplishments achieved during his decade of running the Southeastern Conference. What lies ahead for the SEC is quite a bit vague, but the commissioner indicated Monday that the good times should continue to roll.
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive has unfinished business and he isn't leaving what has lately become college football's penthouse anytime soon. With two new members, six straight football national titles and a four-team playoff to determine future champions. Slive tells The Associated Press he has agreed to run the powerhouse SEC for "at least a couple more years," continuing his decade-long tenure.
Imagine if instead of sending a DVD to Razorback donors pleading for them to Answer the Call to improve Arkansas’ athletic facilities, Jeff Long had gone to not just the donors and other Razorback fans, but all the taxpayers of Arkansas and told them “Raise taxes for new facilities or I’m moving the Hogs to Albuquerque.” And then imagine SEC Commissioner Mike Slive saying something along the lines of “The facilities in Fayetteville are no longer viable. In order for Arkansas to continue SEC play, the facilities must be upgraded." Of course this is all absurd. The Razorbacks are sometimes referred to as Arkansas’ pro team, but they’re absolutely not. If they were, the above scenario could actually happen.
It may not have been Big Ten commission Jim Delany's worst nightmare, but it probably didn't help his turkey dinner go down easily seeing the Southeastern Conference football trio of LSU, Alabama and Arkansas ranked 1-2-3 in the BCS poll last Thanksgiving week. That scenario of one conference dominating the top three positions in the national polls since the conclusion of the 1971 season, when the Big 8's Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado ranked 1-2-3 after the bowl games. One has to imagine that anytime the name "SEC" comes up around Delany, he can taste the bile in his throat. Meanwhile, Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive is quietly working his way to the chair of power in college football and instigating needed change in the way a national champion is determined.
The Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences have announced a deal that will pit their football regular-season champions against each other in a New Year's Day bowl game for five years beginning in 2014, positioning themselves for the expected switch to a four-team playoff. In fact, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive all but said it's coming in Friday's announcement of the agreement between two of the most successful BCS conferences.
BCS leaders finally are starting to get into some specifics in their discussions about possible — maybe even likely — changes in college football's postseason and how to determine a champion. They are finding out just how tricky the process will be. And it's still far from being finished.
The SEC stressed that when the 2012 football schedule was released that itwas not a permanent setup. The reason is because there is a really big problem with it. Under the 6-1-1 setup, Arkansas, for example, would only get visits from each school in the East, other than South Carolina, once every 12 years. And Athens, Ga., really should be visited more than once a decade.
Benson’s term as commissioner will begin on April 1, 2012. He replaces outgoing commissioner Wright Waters, who announced his retirement last October. Waters has served as the Sun Belt’s commissioner since December, 1998 and will formally step down on June 30, 2012.
There is a next logical step in showing respect to Nolan Richardson. Former players have already begun work behind the scenes to ensure appreciation for Richardson isn’t limited to a museum, the pages of a book, the occasional pep rally celebrating the 1994 National Championship or a documentary. Arkansas needs a more permanent reminder of what he accomplished as a coach, what a great ambassador he was for the state and how hard he fought for others.
Arkansas rolled out the red carpet for Nolan Richardson and former Razorbacks during Saturday’s premiere of the “40 Minutes Of Hell” documentary. Richardson and the 1994 NCAA title team were the subject of a film put together as part of ESPN’s SEC Storied series. Bud Walton Arena announcer John George introduced the team, who entered the court on the sort of red carpet you’d see at a Hollywood film debut.
Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long sounded unusually tired for 8:30 in the morning during a recent interview on Hog Sports Radio. In fact, the word “weary” was thrown about at some point during his chat, most of which revolved around the Razorbacks’ 2012 football schedule. There was a point when Long hoped to have the Arkansas football schedule wrapped up and packaged by Christmas. It’s not happening and that seems — at least from the recent interview — to be taking its toll on the athletic department’s top administrator.
SEC athletic directors and Commissioner Mike Slive met Wednesday to discuss the logistics of Texas A&M's entry as the 13th member even though No. 14 might soon be on its way. The meeting comes a day after University of Missouri curators voted unanimously to consider leaving the Big 12 — likely to join the Southeastern Conference — instead of committing to the league for the long term. However, SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said the AD meeting at league headquarters was scheduled several weeks ago.
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said he remains hopeful Texas A&M will join the league by next season and that the SEC has started to look at schedules for next year involving 13 teams. In a statement Monday, Slive also said the SEC was not currently looking to expand beyond Texas A&M.
He almost had me convinced. The initial reaction to Mike Slive’s drastic and well-intentioned changes to college football was first overwhelming acceptance, then later with criticism. Now skepticism abounds when thinking about the SEC commissioner’s plan.
Change might be coming to the SEC, college football and amateur athletics. But make sure you know this: Football remains king in college athletics and the SEC is the unquestioned ruler of college football. SEC football is bigger and brasher than its peers, regardless of the image change league commissioner Mike Slive and others might be working toward.
The hottest topic at the Southeastern Conference's annual meetings has nothing to do with national championships or NCAA violations. It has to do with what league Commissioner Mike Slive calls "fundamental fairness" to recruits. His coaches agree.