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Mike Slive Discusses Playoffs, League Size, TV Negotiations

Mike Slive discussed two of the more pressing big picture issues in college football with the Birmingham News yesterday, those being the future of the postseason format and the size of conferences.

He said he's willing to discuss a four-team playoff where only conference champions are included, but his inclination is to oppose such a restriction. It's not hard to figure out why, considering he had two schools play for the national title in 2011. That sentiment puts him in opposition to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and outgoing interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas, who both have voiced support for limiting any playoff to only conference champions. In the history of the BCS, the SEC has put two teams in the top four of the final rankings three times. The Big 12 has also done it three times, the Big Ten two times, and no other conference has done it once.

Slive also was skeptical of the plan the Big Ten leaked a month ago where a football final four would hold semifinals on campus and the title game at a neutral site. He cited the basketball tournament as an example where postseason games are played on neutral sites. This is a bad comparison however because with two exceptions—when a big program plays near its home and wherever it is Kentucky plays—attendance at early rounds is generally sparse. Only Final Four games and the championship have guaranteed full crowds, but that's because they're all played in the same city on the same weekend.

He did express concern about a visiting team's fans not getting many seats at an on-campus a semifinal, which is a legit concern. However, he did not say anything about the possibility of SEC teams having to play in cold locales for on-campus semifinal games. He also didn't express a preference for either a seeded plus one, where four teams are selected before the bowls as championship contenders, or an unseeded plus one, where the top two teams would be picked to play for the national title after the bowls.

Finally, Slive reiterated a point he's made before that he's not looking to expand the SEC beyond the current 14 teams. He considers "14 an extension of 12", while expanding beyond that is a completely new thing.

The conference is apparently in discussions right now with CBS and ESPN about the future of its TV deals, and he sounds very serious about them:

"They know who we are and what we have," Slive said. "None of our schools will be hurt financially (in 2012-13). But that's just today. It's tomorrow that's the real issue. The discussions are very important. They're longterm. We'll leave it at that."

Slive insists that the discussions about future scheduling do not affect the TV negotiations, and that he won't elaborate further on anything until all is finalized.