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1st and 5: Goals Mike Slive Should Have For the SEC in His Swan Song

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SEC commish Mike Slive's contract was due to run out July 31st, not that there was a doubt he would be picked back up. Now on the eve of SEC Media Days, it looks like he's officially still on duty for at least two more years. Having overseen the greatest period in SEC football with the last six BCS national champions, the addition of two more teams in the fold, and playing a leading role in hammering out FBS's first playoff, Slive could easily sit back on his laurels. Almost age 72, Slive could duck any blame if he bailed on us, but with the future still bright for the SEC, how much fun would that be?

Conference members might be pleased as punch with Slive's performance during his tenure, but don't think that the PAC 12 and Big Tens of the world aren't looking to move up on the SEC at any price. Our commissioner's experience and clout in this CFB world may never be more valuable. For the last 20 years, everyone else has watched the SEC make the first moves. Now's not the time to go soft, especially since the landscape is constantly changing.

Keeping in mind this leadership from the conference, Mike Slive might be in as good a position as anyone ever to not only leave a lasting legacy in the Southeastern Conference, but to leave his thumbprint on the sport itself for decades to come. It's already showing with the football playoff. Here's a few more goals I believe could be carried with some strong leadership for both the conference and college football in general:

1) Move the conference offices from Birmingham to Atlanta: This is an old one I've visited before. Despite the obvious bias seen in my screen name, it makes sense on so many levels. The college football hall of fame is coming to Atlanta; the Chick fil A Bowl is vamping up it's image to host playoff games; it's sooo much more metropolitan than the Tragic City--even Alabama abandoned it years ago. Yes, I know, Wal Mart has it's headquarters in Bentonville, but Atlanta is the capital of college football in the south. Hell, they may even knock down the perfectly good Georgia Dome and put in another taxpayer subsidized arena. They're thinking about filling Legion Field in with dirt and making a large planter. Moving along...

2) Start thinking outside of the box for a new definition of conference divisions: With so much reluctance to go to a 9-game conference slate, playing the six members of your division, one permanent cross rival, and one rotator means you play the obscure members about as often as Haley's Comet comes now. This schedule barely even qualifies a team to call itself in the same conference with the others. Worst case, eventually the divisions grow so far apart and split into two separate conferences anyway. Traditional rivalries must be preserved at all costs. With a team not even required to win the conference to play in the national championship game, I don't see it as being that important that you play all of your division mates in a given season either. Get to work...

3) Start laying the framework for the next 8-team playoff: Yes, I know we will be locked into the 4-teamer for a while, but Playoff 2.0 will likely be the only expansion a FBS playoff ever gets, due to the the nature of the sport at the highest level. Treat it with respect. While the stipulation of having the 4-team open to non-conference winners had to be done to make it a true wild card, it was totally understandable with only four given slots. An eventual eight team format will likely incorporate only conference winners and the last vestiges of Notre Dame, if they're still a wallflower--which is the way I think a playoff ought to be--minus the wallflower, of course. Get pickin...

4) Get your own house in order: There are so many small things that the SEC could establish to improve the quality of the sport that most of the other major conferences across the land would emulate quickly: Establish a consensus about record-keeping and the claiming of national and conference championships. Detail standards for grey shirts, medical hardships, and transfer cases. Set firm academic qualification standards that had real consequences upon failure, not to mention standards of behavior when it comes to drug use and other criminality. SEC football fans do not want to see the quality of their sport eroded in hypocrisy and double standards. The teams we cheer represent OUR school, and the closer those individuals that do the representing resemble the rest of the student body, the better it will be for everyone.

5) Stabilize college football expansion and collapse: Of course, I speak of the recent phenomena of conference plate tectonics and the wholesale change we've seen in conference alignment, defection, and expansion. With that being said, I haven't the slightest clue how the SEC or anyone else could even think about doing that. These are natural forces at work, made powerful by decades of power, money, and prestige. Not even Nick Saban could stop them, I say only half-jokingly. But we must try to stop CFB from blowing up every other year. If anyone has the clout and muscle to lay down the law, it's the SEC. Or I think. I hope. Get praying.~~