Slive: SEC Title Game here to stay

DESTIN, FL – Without really saying it, Mike Slive is saying it. The Southeastern Conference championship football game is here to stay. "It has substantial economic value for each of our schools," the SEC's commissioner said here this week at the league's annual spring meetings.

The conference pulls in more than $10 million from the title game and each school gets a 1/12th share of that regardless of participation. There has not been a formal discussion about killing that cash cow since the league split into divisions and instituted the game in 1992.

That doesn't mean there aren't informal mutterings when the coaches get together for a series of meetings at this event.

"Each year there is always discussion," Alabama's Mike Shula said. "It's brought up in our room just to see what other conferences are doing."

Of the six BCS conferences, three – the Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10 – don't have a title game. There's no doubt that puts the SEC, Big 12 and now the ACC at a disadvantage for winning a national championship, Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

"I think the NCAA should mandate the Big Ten and Pac-10 have to play a championship game," Meyer said. "I think it should be an equal playing field, absolutely."

SEC schools have won four national titles in the 14 years of the title game era, but only two in the last 10 years.

"When it comes to the chances of winning the national championship, I think the SEC championship game would keep someone from playing in it before it would get them into it," Georgia's Mark Richt said.

The Bulldogs have played in three championship games and won two overall league titles in the last four years under Richt. Those two league titles rival the two national championships Richt won as an assistant coach at Florida State, he said.

"Being on that field celebrating after the (SEC) championship game, that's as good a feeling as you're going to get," he said. "I wouldn't put the SEC ahead of the national championship of course, but it's a real, real close second, that's for sure."

The importance and prestige of an SEC title make the risk of playing the title game worthwhile, Richt said.

"If you win the SEC Championship, you did something fantastic and everybody understands that," he said. "If the only thing that meant anything to our fans and teams was to win the national championship, then I think we're barking up the wrong tree having this championship game."

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