AuburnFamilyNews.com: Former commish Mike Slive on Lane Kiffin, SEC chasing Alabama and his biggest accomplishment

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Former commish Mike Slive on Lane Kiffin, SEC chasing Alabama and his biggest accomplishment


Mike Slive says he feels as good "as I have felt in a very long time."

The former SEC commissioner, and prostate cancer survivor, joined me Tuesday to talk about the Mike Slive Foundation, the idea of the league chasing Alabama and his biggest accomplishment in the 13 years as the league's top man.

Most people turn to expansion or the SEC Network as his biggest accomplishment.

They were big, for sure, but not what he was thinking about.

"By adding Texas A&M and Missouri, we added almost 10 million television households, which then gave us the opportunity to launch the SEC Network in all 11 states and 28 million households," Slive said.

RELATED: Finebaum on the Network

His single biggest accomplishment, he said, was the hiring of Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State in 2004.

"Sylvester was the first black head football coach in the history of the SEC," Slive said. "Before his hiring, my goal was to create a national conference. We were a bit regional. As long as we had shown we couldn't provide opportunity for everyone, we wouldn't be the kind of national league that I wanted us to be. With the hiring of Sylvester, it was a huge story, especially out of the state of Mississippi. That allowed us to become that national conference that we wanted to become."

The other thing, Slive said, he was most proud of was the "culture of compliance."

"I stopped a lot of public fighting among our institutions," he said. "All of us began to pull in the same direction."

He said it changed the perception of the SEC.

So, let's go back in time. The year was 2009. Urban Meyer was the coach at Florida, and Lane Kiffin had just taken the job at Tennessee.

Kiffin wrongly accused Meyer of improper recruiting in a speech to Tennessee boosters. He then took a shot at Meyer on ESPN before the Gators faced Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship Game.

The SEC's sheriff stepped in.

"When Lane came, he did some things - in a public way - I felt were not in the best interest of the league," Slive said. "One of the things I hold dear is that when you come into the league, you need to understand its culture and respect what's come before you.

"When I had a sense that wasn't the case, I think Lane and I got into it a bit on the public side. To Lane's credit, I would say when he came back to coach at Alabama, we had a good session and he understood what I thought he should've understood earlier. We sort of buried the hatchet."  

RELATED: Kiffin's track record was impressive

Speaking of Kiffin, his former team - the Alabama Crimson Tide - is off to a fast start and ranked No. 1 in the latest polls. The perception - now and through the offseason - is that everyone in the league is trying to catch Alabama.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing for the conference?

"It's great to have a team play for the national championship whether it is Alabama or Auburn or LSU," Slive said. "When you look back on our history, the hallmark of the league, we had a lot of good teams that could play for the national championship.

"At the moment, you can't lose sight of the fact that you have a great team that has played for the national championship, but we'd be better served, of course, if we are highly competitive throughout.

"What you are seeing is the rise of some programs that have not been competitive for our league championships. We're beginning to see some parity.

"Parity in the league is a healthy thing. On the other hand, when you're looking for a national championship, you're going to need a couple of teams fighting for it."

As far as fighting, Slive, 77, knows all about it as a prostate cancer survivor.

He is still fighting the good fight.

The Mike Slive Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research has been started with the goal of saving lives by funding cutting-edge prostate cancer research.

RELATED: How the Foundation started



from Auburn Sports Impact http://bit.ly/2wFoPFS

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