The State Of The SEC

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has now been on the job for 10 years and he opened the league's 28th annual Media Days lauding what it has done in the past and where it is at presently, but also promising to not rest on laurels.

HOOVER, Ala. - SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has now been on the job for 10 years and things are going pretty good for the league.

Take nine national championships last season (and seven runner-ups) for the league and 62 crowns in 16 sports in his decade on the job.

When he first took over there were no minority head coaches in the SEC (Arkansas hoops coach Nolan Richardson had just been let go) and now there are three minority football coaches, eight minority men's head basketball coaches and five minority women's head hoops coaches.

Oh, and during Slive's time on the job, the SEC has nearly tripled its amount of revenue given to each school.

"I don't usually spend a whole lot of time looking back in the rearview mirror," Slive said Tuesday as he opened the 28th annual SEC Media Days. "There's plenty of time for that in the future when I get older. Nonetheless, a wise man once said ‘We must look to the past for inspiration for our future."

The future includes new members Missouri and Texas A&M, who officially made the SEC a 14-team league on July 1.

Both were spotlighted on the Opening day of this three-day event - which has over 1,100 media on hand - along with holdovers South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

"In our nearly 80-year history, Texas A&M and Missouri are only the third and fourth new members of the conference," Slive said.

"Both are outstanding academic institutions and members of the American Association of Universities," Slive added. "They support exceptional broad-based athletic programs with passionate fans and wonderful traditions. They fit. We welcome them into the conference family."

A&M will host Florida and Missouri will entertain Georgia in both's first SEC game on Sept. 8.

"Our transition team was able to provide signature home games for their new members inaugural contests," Slive said. "We're all looking forward to Sept. 8 when A&M hosts Florida and Missouri hosts Georgia. Both will be televised on ESPN and played in front of excited home crowds in College Station and Columbia."

The 14-team conference schedule was a challenge, but Slive - who quoted Winston Churchill, Williams Shakespeare and Muhammad Ali during his speech - praised all of the members in helping to work it out.

"It was important to recognize that not a single school that didn't have to give up something, something important to make this schedule work," Slive said. "And for me, it was an extraordinary exercise in cooperation and exemplifies the unique culture of the Southeastern Conference."

The SEC has just finished its third year of a 15-year agreements with ESPN and CBS.

"The goal of those agreements was to make us the most widely distributed conference in the country and they have done that," Slive said. "For example, this past year nearly 430 events were shown on ESPN supplemented by games on CBS and our two regional networks.

"The early game, as you know, is SEC Network syndicated package that now reaches 80 million homes and includes such markets as New York, Chicago, Boston and L.A. amongst others," Slive added. "On a Saturday afternoon, it is ESPN's third most widely distributed platform behind only ESPN and ESPN2."

The league is also looking toward having it's own network – jokingly referred to as Project X.

"There has been a whole lot of speculation about Project X," Slive said. "Is is still a secret? I don't think so. But now we call it Project SEC. Our objective long-term is to work with our television partner to provide fans with greater access to favored teams, more opportunities to watch rivals, and more insight into who we are: a conference of 14 great universities.

"I'd love to say more," Slive added. "I know you would love me to say more. I won't say more. I will, though, before I get too much older and before you get older."

Slive did talk about how the SEC favors the new four-team playoff.

"In terms of post-season football, it is no secret that the SEC has supported a four-team playoff – the four best teams – for several years," Slive said, "starting in 2004 when an undefeated Auburn, the SEC champion, was left out of the national championship hunt.

"Now that we have a four-team playoff, I'm often asked whether the new format is good for the SEC," Slive added. "The answer is unequivocally yes, and it is good for football at the same time."

Slive also talked about the new Champions Bowl, an event that will be put on by the SEC and the Big 12 and which will have the league's top-rated teams not playing in the national championship playoff.

"We have a great partner in the Big 12 and will work with them to finalize plans for the inaugural game, which will be played in prime time on Jan. 1, 2015," Slive said. "The game is unique because it is owned by the conferences and it will be placed into a bowl yet to be determined.

"This new game will provide a great match-up between two leagues that have been the most successful leagues in the BCS and will complement the new post-season," Slive continued.

Slive also noted that there will be more than 160 current or former SEC student-athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

"Muhammad Ali once said ‘Champions are made from something they have deep inside of them, a desire, a dream, a division,'" Slive noted.

"Our desire, our dream and our vision for SEC Student-Athletes is to continue pushing forward with a pioneering spirit to position them for success on and off the field in the future," Slive added. "We are not resting on our laurels. No champion can."

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