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July 17, 2012
HOOVER, Ala. -- Mike Slive gets asked the question all the time: "Is the new college football postseason format good for the Southeastern Conference?"
The conference's commissioner always has the same answer: "Unequivocally yes."
A four-team playoff has been the big bully on the playground of storylines this offseason, and a room filled with more than 1,000 media members waited for Slive to address it. It took him about 16 minutes to do so.
Slive immediately gave an 8-year-old history lesson, referring back to the 2004 undefeated Auburn Tigers as the initial spark behind the SEC's campaign for a college football playoff. The Tigers were left out of national championship contention despite not losing a game.
"Each of us tried to balance our responsibility to our league and to the great game of football as a whole," Slive said. "We found a way to come together. As a result, we are now able to provide student-athletes and fans with a championship format that not only protects the best regular season in sports, but enhances it."
It is no secret that the development of the playoff is far from over. Revenue distribution, which bowls will be involved, sight selection for the national championship game and the composition of a selection committee, are all issues that still need to be solved.
While the sport has still not figured out what criteria for being on the selection committee will be, Slive did know how the teams will be determined: a combination of win-loss record, strength of schedule, conference championships and head-to-head competition. Slive also said the new system will force teams to fix their non-conference schedules in accordance to the difficulty of their conference slates.
The reset button: Early in his speech to the 2012 SEC Media Days gathering, Slive addressed recruiting rules - one of the few topics he addressed in 2011 that he said still needed to be reset.
"We recommend permitting the use of text messaging, the language of our student-athletes, removing hard and fast recruiting calendars to a recruiting-person-day model and regulating only what counts," Slive said.
In addition, Slive added that what he talked about last July in terms of multi-year scholarships has been a success. He said there is still work to do in terms of ensuring that student-athletes can return to their universities down the road for further and unfinished education.
The Nittany Elephant in the room: Slive got somber for a portion of his speech, and rightfully so.
Without directly naming anything to do with the ongoing Penn State scandal or former head coach Joe Paterno, Slive addressed the "headlines of last week" and called for a serious need of checks and balances between university and athletic program.
"No one person -- no matter how powerful, no matter how successful - should be allowed to derail the soul of an institution," Slive said.
When asked for further detail about his statement in a later question-and-answer session, Slive repeatedly said he had said all he wanted to say about it earlier and declined comment.
Project X -- not the movie: Project X is no longer. The rumored nickname for what was supposed to be the secretive development of an SEC Network television channel has been renamed Project SEC, according to Slive.
It has long been in talks that the SEC has looked into the format the Big Ten took with starting its own television channel and found interest. For the first time, Slive admitted with a grin that those plans are certainly in development and caved into saying it's no longer much of a secret.
But for any further details, people will have to keep waiting.
"I'd love to say more. I know you'd love for me to say more. I won't say more," Slive said. "I will before I get too much older and you get too much older."
Etc.: Slive commended the conference's schools on the development of minority employment, pointing out there will be three minority head coaches in the league this season. ... The "Champions' Bowl" is the project name for the bowl agreement between the SEC and the Big 12. Slive said there is little known about it at this time aside from the fact it will be a New Year's Day primetime game. ... Slive said the league set out to find marquee home match-ups for its two new teams, Missouri and Texas A&M. He believes the right opponents were found in Georgia and Florida, respectively.
Stay tuned to Inside the Gators on Wednesday as Will Muschamp, Jon Bostic, Larentee McCray and Mike Gillislee meet with the media in Hoover
(Deal ends July 20, 2012)