Slive's Job a Bit Easier in 2010

DESTIN, Fla. - A year after he had to play the principal to the SEC's classroom of rowdy third graders, it was a much more relaxed commissioner Mike Slive who met with the media Tuesday. The SEC meetings have a very different feel than 2009's did. None of Slive's coaches have inaccurately and publicly accused another of cheating.

The conference added its fourth straight national title in football, has 14 years left on lucrative TV deals and has the luxury of not worrying about expansion. While there are still plenty of items for the schools to deal with this week, it's clearly a less stressful time for the commish.

"It's extraordinary, and a great credit to our players and coaches," said Slive of the four consecutive national championships. "Five would be better, but it really is an enormous achievement."

Lane Kiffin is gone, but the rules created to deal with some of his behavior linger on. One was the policy against any public questioning of officials. Slive points out that the conference suspended the crew who worked the Arkansas-Florida game last season and announced it to make clear they hold officials accountable for poor work. In the wake of that, he doesn't want to hear any public complaints going forward from coaches about the referees.

"Officiating is an important part of what we do," said Slive. "We have rules and we expect our coaches to follow those rules."

One of the other issues that had Slive irate a year ago was a sudden surge in high profile secondary recruiting violations, with some coaches suggesting that since no significant penalty was likely to result from committing one they might as well go ahead and do so and reap the potential advantage. The commissioner says he's looking into the possibility of making the punishments for secondary violations public to demonstrate that kind of thinking is incorrect.

"We have imposed sanctions for secondaries that are very substantial."

Slive didn't solely challenge his football sideline bosses at the 2009 meetings. He made clear to the conference's basketball coaches that they needed to upgrade the level of their non-SEC schedule to improve their chances of reaching the NCAA tournament.

"Most of our teams did a good job with it," said Slive. "We have a couple of schools we're talking to that need to upgrade their non-conference schedule, but I'm pleased about the progress."

There's still plenty of work for Slive to do. The SEC is working on its football schedule for 2012 through 2022, and after Alabama wound up with a half dozen games against teams coming off bye weeks this season every effort is being made to make sure that won't happen again for any school.

The divisional structure for SEC basketball may be done away with, requiring some complex tiebreakers be designed if that happens. Should the Big Ten expand, the SEC needs to have a plan thought out on how to handle it. With Slive signed on through 2012, there's no question he'll be the guy to lead them through those challenges and more.

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