Dec 3, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; LSU Tigers players hoist the SEC championship trophy after the 2011 SEC championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Slive Has the SEC Headed for Domination of College Football


Mike Slive has outfoxed those that would break the SEC’s domination in the boardroom instead of the gridiron.

The recently announced BCS playoff scheme has been met with mixed response. Proponents tell us it will crown a true champion, while opponents ask why a selection committee charged with seeding a playoff will be any more objective than pollsters choosing a top 25.

A Division-1 college football playoff has been the dream of many for years, not least of which are those with the greatest financial interest in such an arrangement. The major television networks and ESPN are already salivating at the revenue that would be generated by adding extra pomp, circumstance and oh yes, an extra football game somewhere in there between the commercials.

Some detractors of a playoff – notably those that swear allegiance to the Crimson Tide – say this is simply a way to get around the fact that the SEC West is far and away stronger than any other conference in the country, and that smaller, weaker schools must be given a chance to hold up the crystal football, preferably on a rotating basis so nobody gets their feelings hurt.

Jim Delany has tried to drive the news cycle in recent days with his insistence that a playoff be limited to conference champions. He also is demanding that the Rose Bowl retain its position as “the Grandaddy of them All” in the bowl system; never mind that nobody wants to see their grandaddy play football.

The recent deal between the Big 12 and SEC may be the first step in heading off both of Delany’s attempts to manufacture a position of strength out of thin air. In one fell swoop, Mike Slive has regained his position as the leading executive in college football, and positioned the SEC to have an upper hand in any future discussions about a playoff.

The SEC, by adding Missouri and Texas A&M, has stretched the the name Southeastern Conference to the absolute breaking point. Rather than secede from the NCAA, it could conceivably overwhelm the august body by expanding further. Imagine an SEC containing Florida, Clemson, North Carolina and Duke. Georgia Tech and Miami would follow. The acronym SEC would lose all meaning, and other schools would scramble to join the Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac 12.

We’re going to have a playoff in 2014, though it may look nothing like what Jim Delany has in mind. It’s highly plausible that we’re witnessing a sea change in the sport, and that college football is arranging itself into four regions – or brackets – that could do more to crown a true national champion than anything that Delany could dream up.

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