Mike Slive’s SEC welcome wagon pulled into Kansas City yesterday to help make sure the Missouri Tigers don’t become an afterthought in the lefthand portion of their home state. It’s clear that Mizzou is making a strong PR push to keep KC-area residents interested in Tiger athletics… even though the Tigers will no longer be playing nearby Kansas and Kansas State.
According to The Kansas City Star, Slive touched on the normal list of topics and we’ll give you a taste of each below:
* Scheduling — Slive said once again that the league’s ADs have shown no interest in moving to a nine-game schedule. (We maintain that once everyone else starts playing nine BCS games per year, the SEC will be forced to follow suit or suffer in the national polls.)
“We have to decide how we’re going to schedule, and then if we’re going to have permanent (rivals), how permanent (rivals) are going to work,” Slive said. “We’ve met a couple times, but not final decisions have been made. I anticipate we’ll do that sometime between now and Destin” at the SEC Meetings at the end of May.
In other words, all the leaks and tweets between the presidents at South Carolina and Texas A&M don’t necessarily guarantee that Arkansas and Missouri will be paired as permanent football rivals. (Though it sure looks like that will be the case.)
* Television — SEC schools can cut their own deals with networks for their local rights packages — like Florida and the Sunshine Network, for example — but the commish made it clear schools aren’t able to go the University of Texas route. “Our institutions cannot go ahead and have their own networks.”
As for the current negotiations between the league and its current television partners ESPN and CBS, Slive said: “There’s not timetable, but you don’t want to be dragging it out forever. We’ve had significant meetings with both of our partners.”
Slive would not say whether or not the league would start its own network like the Big Ten and Pac-12 have.
* Basketball Tournaments in Missouri — Missouri athletic director Mike Alden has already pushed both Kansas City and St. Louis to bid on future SEC Tournaments. Earlier this month Slive stated that he “anticipated” a bid coming from St. Louis, but he said nothing of Kansas City.
So what did he say yesterday in Kansas City? “If you’re asking if there’s a chance we bring the conference championship to Kansas City, the answer is… could we? Yes. Will we? I don’t know.” He did say that he thought KC officials might put in a bid.
St. Louis and Memphis, Slive said, have both expressed interest in grabbing the two currently open tourneys or 2016 and 2017.
Regarding St. Louis, Slive told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Frank Viverito — the president of the St. Louis Sports Commission — is “very serious” about landing an SEC tourney. “He made it very clear that St. Louis has a strong interest in having every opportunity.”
* Moving the SEC Championship Game — I think we all know that this is a no-go. The Georgia Dome has been home to the last 18 title games in a row and the commish said it’s staying put.
“It’s been very successful for us in Atlanta,” Slive said. “Right now we’re under contract through ’17 with an option for ’21… we’re sold out every year, we have about a 99% renewal rate, we have a 20,000-person waiting list, and we draw somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 people to our (SEC) Fanfare (event) adjacent to the game. It’s a formula that one would be very careful about tinkering with.”
So, in all of that, did we really learn anything new from Slive’s stopover in the barbecue capital of the Midwest? Only that St. Louis “very serious” about landing a hoops tournament — which was already anticipated — and that SEC schools could not form their own television networks.
It was believed that league schools could do so since they own their own local rights. In fact, some sites reported that Texas could enter the SEC and keep its Longhorn Network. Not so, according to the commissioner himself.