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Saturday morning SEC commissioner Mike Slive came on my NBC Sports Radio show for a half hour in studio visit amidst the SEC Basketball Tournament.
Slive is a great radio guest because he answers questions without using soundbites, which means he isn’t always well-suited to quick television interviews. He likes to work his way around issues and answer questions in greater depth. That’s why he’s rarely made news with a pithy quote. So I’d encourage you to listen to both attached interview segments below rather than just read these excerpts.
But I’ve also pulled out several of Slive’s quotes that I thought were interesting:
When asked whether expansion was still on the SEC’s horizon, Slive responded, “We were happy at 12… If A&M and Missouri had not come to us, I think we’d still be at 12…I thought 12 was ideal, 14 is a cousin of 12 and 16 is a distant relative. So one has to be very, very careful about thinking about the idea that somehow larger is necessarily better.”
I asked Slive whether, given the fact that Austin, Texas was one of the highest rated SEC television markets in the wake of Texas A&M’s addition, you could fairly say that the SEC had more than than a sliver of east Texas. Slive grinned, but then dodged the question, “Most of the focus is on revenue, but …distribution and creating interest in our league not only in our current 11 states but everywhere in the country has always been a primary goal of ours…Whatever communities are in Texas, or anywhere else, that people can enjoy our teams is gratifying for us.”
When discussing how much time he was spending on the coming SEC Network, Slive said that all of us have A pile, B pile, and C piles of work to do.
“Our television network is at the top of my A-pile list,” Slive said, “We spend a lot of time thinking about it. What I said here (at the SEC Tournament) was that we will make a formal announcement in mid-April about the SEC Network.”
Slive said the SEC will plan to announce “significant content” at that point.
Summing up the status of the SEC Network, Slive said, “We think that this (the SEC Network) is a matter whose time has time.”
I asked Slive whether he believed the SEC was the second most valuble football brand in the country behind the NFL.
“I think college football as a whole, as I understand the data…, has either tied or surpassed Major League Baseball as the second most popular sport after the National Football League. What it means is that football has become, in many ways, the national game. And the combination of college and the NFL has now taken a front row seat and to that extent because of the quality of our play the SEC has now taken its place as the premier football confererence in the country.”
You can listen to part one of the interview by clicking here.
In the first part of the interview we talk a great deal about conference realignment, the addition of Texas A&M and Mizzou to the SEC, and Johnny Manziel’s rise to prominence and the challenges that come with fame in a social media era.
In part two of the interview, which you can listen to below, we talk about the coming SEC Network, whether players should be paid, and the rising popularity of college football in general and the SEC in particular.
You can listen to part two of the interview by clicking here.
I’d encourage you to listen to both segments of the interview, but I’ve pulled out several other additional quotes that I thought were interesting.
Slive on if the SEC is down in basketball this year:
“I think the perception is that we’re down, but the way I think about is one year is just one year. This is our 11th season (with Slive as commissioner) and in the first ten we won three national championships and the only other league that has done that is the Big East as it was orginally constituted….I hate to take one year and try to characterize our league.”
Could Texas A&M have had a better first year in the SEC?
“Probably not. It was a terrific year…The excitement that they generated within our footprint and nationally certainly was a short term benefit that we didn’t necessarily foresee. Because what we were really looking at here was a longer term horizon and the idea of bringing in Texas A&M and Missouri was to make sure that over the next ten or twenty years that this league maintains its primacy, not only in football, but in all of the sports and in other aspects of the league. But in the short term, it turned out to be an outstanding year for us.”
Does Slive feel bad at all for institutions that have been left behind in the realignment race, in particular, the University of Connecticut, which is the biggest loser in the new conference line-ups?
“I try to think about all of this in some historical perspective and there’s a tendency not to do that. Institutions have been making conference decisions for a very, very long time. In the SEC as far back as 1933 when Georgia Tech and Tulane and Sewanee were in the SEC and they made institutional decisions (to leave)…So this is nothing new. I think what’s new about it is that fact that first of all, the interest and the visibility…changes how people are perceived. Thirty years ago it would have been a decision that would have been interesting but not necessarily the focus of an institution.”
“I don’t sit back and say this institution should have done this or shouldn’t have done that….I think the impact of college football is different in this day and age than it was before. And so those institutions that have dealt in the sport of football..have sort of dominated that discussion….I don’t sit back and think about particular institutions other than those in my league.”
In addition to 3HL from 3-6 central every weekday, the Clay Travis Show on NBC Sports Radio airs from 8-11 central each Saturday morning. So if, amazingly, you’re not getting enough of me on Outkick, I’m also doing 18 hours of live radio a week.
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