SEC Commissioner Mike Slive kicked off the unofficial start to the college football season with his annual “State of the SEC” address at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday.
Of course, he bragged, noting the “SEC won its seventh straight BCS national championship, finished the regular season with six teams ranked in the top 10, the first conference to accomplish such a feat in the history of college football, set a record with 63 NFL Draft picks, more than double that of any other conference, and an SEC football player was awarded the Heisman Trophy for the fourth time in the last six years.”
The conference has reached unprecedented heights under Slive, but he also touted the conference’s academic record, saying “three of the last four academic All‑Americans of the year came from the SEC, namely Barrett Jones in 2012, Alabama’s Greg McElroy in 2010, and Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2009.”
“And, the SEC had 10 first‑team academic All‑American recipients, five national football foundation scholar athletes, and nine representatives on the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team,” he added for good measure.
And then he called out the NCAA, potentially signaling that it may soon be irrelevant when it comes to governing the “power” conferences when in college football.
He also said he wrote NCAA President Mark Emmert on behalf of of the SEC presidents and chancellors to urge the NCAA to organize and spearhead a “four-part national effort” on studying concussions, which includes conducting further scientific research, determining “best practices and standards of care for the prevention and treatment of concussions,” disseminating the information to NCAA member institutions and “
continue to review and revise playing rules in football and other sports as new research and new information on concussions becomes available as we revise and refine best practices.”
“The point here is that the issue of concussions is not limited to one conference or one region,” he noted. “We all share the concern about the overall health of college football and its participants across the entire country and within each NCAA division.”
Slive also said the NCAA was not doing enough in helping athletes with the cost of the attendance and said outdated recruiting policies would need to be examined.
“The NCAA has not been successful in meeting the full cost of attendance of our student‑athletes, whether through the so‑called miscellaneous expense allowance or some other model that provides broad access to additional funds,” he said. “Conferences and their member institutions must be allowed to meet the needs of their student‑athletes. In recent conversations with my commissioner colleagues, there appears to be a willingness to support a meaningful solution to this important change.”
He then spoke about the state of recruiting and the outdated rules ill-suited for the modern age.
“Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, early recruiting, club sports, cell phones, Internet access, distance learning, 3‑D printers will continue to become more and more commonplace,” Slive said. “The current regulatory approach would be more at home in the era of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press than in our current fast‑paced technology‑driven society and will no longer serve to functionally govern recruiting behaviors moving forward.”
Alluding to the recent controversies surrounding Aaron Hernandez, a former Florida player, and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Slive said, “At the same time we talk about our successes on the field and in the classroom, we cannot ignore the recent off‑the‑field incidents involving both current and former student‑athletes.”
In subsequent interviews, he said he did not think any conference would ever break the SEC’s current streak of seven consecutive national titles, comparing the record to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.