COLUMBIA, Mo. – It was a whirlwind day for SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who participated in the coin toss at the Florida at Texas A&M and Georgia at Missouri games, the first in the league for the new members, on Saturday.
At halftime of the Georgia at Missouri game, Slive spoke with the media about the historic games, the new members and the league’s future television contracts.
Q: What do you think about the job Missouri has done so far?
A: It’s been terrific. When I talked to the Georgia folks they were telling me that the hospitality, the fans and the reception that they’ve received has been as good as they’ve ever had. Also, you can’t walk downtown for five steps without seeing an SEC logo. We like that a lot.
Q: How has Missouri handled the whole transition?
A: Very well. They have done a tremendous job. They have been involved in our governance process even before the official date, which was July 1. They are just a great addition. They have already contributed to what we are trying to do.
Q: Can you describe your day?
A: We came into College Station about 4 o’clock and had a reception there with the trustees of both Florida and A&M. Then, I’m not usually up at midnight. At my age, 9 o’clock is about my limit, but we stayed up and we went to the [pep rally] and they had about 40,000 students in there. We watched that and went to bed. Got up and I had a meeting. Then there was a reception at noon. Then we left there with about five minutes to go in the half and came here. I was able to flip the coin in both games, which was a treat for me.
Q: What was the atmosphere like down on the field for the coin flip?
A:It was fascinating to coming into both stadiums. You could feel the energy. You could feel the euphoria. You could feel the pride and how excited everybody was. The players, coaches, the officials, fans. … everybody was excited about today. These are the third and fourth teams that we’ve added to the league in 80 years. It’s an historic day. Most people want to be a part of the history and we all are. This is a day that won’t come again in our lifetime I don’t think.
Q: What was behind the thinking to have A&M and Missouri open on the same day against high profile opponents?
A:When we were talking with both institutions, they both wanted to have a significant home game to start their time with us. So, we were able to work it out. These are both significant games and of course ESPN was very interested. We were able to place the games so that they didn’t conflict. So, for us, it’s been a big day on ESPN. We had Auburn and Mississippi State early. We had the [Texas A&M and Florida] game and we’ve got this game. We also have LSU playing Washington right now. With these games there’s just been a tremendous amount of publicity. We wanted to make sure that we got off to a flying start.
Q: On future television contracts?
A: We are in negotiations with both of our TV partners [ESPN and CBS]. We have been talking for a while. We’ll be talking for a little bit longer. But I hope that we’ll have something in place hopefully by the end of the calendar year. …there are a lot of issues and a lot options for us in thinking about how we want to move ahead in the future. I’m encouraged.
Q: On dominating the day on television?
A: When this came about, wanted to make sure that this was a day that A&M and Missouri fans would remember. We not only wanted to create a home-field atmosphere, but a television atmosphere. One of the things that we found attractive was the passion the fans have for their programs. That certainly has been shown to be true today.