People have had a way of underestimating Southeastern Conference commissioners that ends up making them look foolish.
They mocked former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer, old Uncle Roy. The Vanderbilt athletic director tabbed to run the mighty SEC? What, the Tuscaloosa city accountant wasn’t available?
Well, think of the BCS what you will, but Kramer practically invented it. He went from Uncle Roy to The Godfather, arguably the most powerful man in college sports.
When Kramer retired in 2002, in came Mike Slive. Slightly built, soft spoken, Slive is anything but physically imposing.
That’s OK. He just imposes his will on college athletics’ biggest sport. And, oh, yes, his teams win the BCS every year.
Four years ago, Slive and Atlantic Coast Conference commish John Swofford proposed a plus-one championship game. That trial balloon was quickly shot down by the traditionalists, and the controversial status quo remained.
Slive always chose his words carefully after that, but you were left feeling he wanted a playoff.
Thursday, the old guard finally crumbled. Many important details haven’t been finalized, but there will be some sort of playoff after the 2014 season.
Slive got what he wanted. He wouldn’t say it like that, but his feelings were plain when someone asked if he thought the BCS might still survive in its current form if the member schools don’t like the playoff proposals.
“I hope not,” Slive shot back.
You can rest assured, Slive will get his wish.
Some have called Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany the most powerful man in college football. Still fairly new Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has been praised for expanding his league and landing it a lucrative new TV deal that eclipses the one Slive got for the SEC a couple of years ago.
But both take a back seat to the man from Birmingham.
Delaney and Scott both pushed the outlandish proposal that there be two semifinals AND a Big Ten/Pac-12 Rose Bowl, with the top two teams from that multi-car pileup emerging in college football’s new championship game.
Clearly it was a ploy to appease the Rose Bowl, but it had as much chance of passing as the Rose pulling up stakes and moving its annual pageantry to New Orleans (wouldn’t fly anyway; they don’t throw beads at the Rose Parade).
Thursday, Scott emerged from the meeting of college football power brokers and said he would like to see the playoff semifinal games played at on campus sites. Surely he has Eugene, Ore., or the L.A. Coliseum in mind.
Slive said he prefers neutral sites, which likely means at the site of or in current BCS bowls. The championship game could be at a BCS site or bid out (the image of Jerry Jones writing out a very large check comes quickly to mind).
Betting against Slive would be foolish.