Even if it's true that the SEC's decision to add Texas A&M and Missouri was motivated primarily by the need to reopen its television contracts (and attempt to keep pace with the new TV-backed financial might of the Big Ten and Pac-12), Mike Slive would never admit it--which makes his comments Sunday to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal on those kickstarted TV negotiations as close to that admission as we're going to come.
Asked by the Commercial-Appeal when those "re-negotiations" with CBS and ESPN would begin, Slive candidly answered with this (emphasis added):
"We have started discussions with both our television partners. We feel adding Texas A&M and Missouri has strengthened us in lots of ways, but it certainly strengthened us in television."
"It certainly strengthened us in television" is commissioner-speak for "Hey, you saw that very nice bump the Big 12 got in its post-expansion TV contract? We're going to make it look like the 47 cents in your Camry's ashtray."
With Slive expressing this kind of confidence, there's not really any lingering doubt any more: the SEC is going to announce a revamped television deal in the near future that's going to give the league the financial means to buy out, say, most medium-sized European countries. (We're just saying, if Slive is formally named "The Most Gentlemanly Vice-King of Norway, in absentia" during a visit to Oslo this summer, don't act surprised.)
Of course, as dazzling as the SEC's TV numbers are likely to be in the short-term, the billion-dollar long-term question still has to be answered: will these re-negotiations end in the SEC's own television network? The Big 12's new deal is a vast improvement, but it now runs through the 2025 season without any substantial increase in scheduled revenue; the Big Ten's and Pac-12's may leave it in the dust if their networks grow as expected. (Pac-12 sources have told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd their network will allow the league to distribute $30 million per school in the network's first year of operation.) Though the SEC will always rank among the nation's wealthiest leagues, being the wealthiest into 2020 and beyond might require its own devoted network to match the Big Ten's and Pac-12's increasing revenues.
But while we wait for further details on those negotiations, SEC fans will be happy to know their wait for a 2013-and-beyond scheduling agreement should be close to its conclusion: Slive also told the Commercial-Appeal he wants to have the scheduling discussions completed before the league's annual Destin (Fla.) business meetings in late May.Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.
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