Today was the kickoff to SEC Media Days, and Mike Slive was front and center talking about the conference, the new College Football Playoff, and the future of college sports. All in all, it was quite a bit of substance.
First off, the schedule still seems to be staying at eight SEC games for the foreseeable future. For Kentucky, that’s a good thing. Mark Stoops & Co. need the opportunity to schedule some easier games, and that one extra non-SEC game is really important when you’re trying to rebuild a program. Sure, teams like Alabama and South Carolina would be fine with a nine-game SEC schedule, but they aren’t where Kentucky is right now.
The downside to this arrangement is that some schools will not play each other even once a decade — in the worst-case scenario, certain schools will only play each other once every twelve years. That’s a long time.
The SEC Network officially launches on August 14th. It will prioritize the airing of live sports events throughout the day and evening, with priority given to football and men’s basketball. I suppose football takes precedence over basketball, but then again, that’s only an assumption on my part. Because SEC.
Perhaps the most significant comments were saved for last, regarding the future of the NCAA and the power conferences. Consider:
"If we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student‑athletes," Slive said while carefully choosing his words.
I don’t think this is in any way ambiguous. He’s saying in a polite way what the Big Ten’s Jim Delaney has said more bluntly, and what John Calipari has been saying for at least four years.
If there is anything qualifying as "big news," this is probably it, although it is understated. The NCAA is going to change significantly whether it wins or loses the O’Bannon case. Players will be receiving stipends. Four-year scholarships are going to become the norm. We’ll have to see if that trend spreads to the rest of Division I.
That’s it for now. We’ll have more as SEC Media Days soon.