Decoding Mike Slive
As anyone with an internet feed or access to ESPNU – or, for that matter, was among the 1.2 million “credentialed media” inside the main ballroom at The Wynfrey in Hoover, Ala., -- on Wednesday, SEC Commissioner/Big-Time Football Right Reverend Michael Lawrence Slive took to the main podium in an attempt to right all the wrongs of college athletics with one fell swoop.
During his 13-minute remarks, the mighty commissioner – who could arguably be No. 1A along with Bud Selig as the most powerful person in athletics (when factoring in the personal boredom factor) – talked about reform and stuff that made little common sense to the average listener.
Which is why we were here. Because Mike Slive’s voice, tragically, rattles around in our head about as much as that of our loving wife, we have developed an internal translation tool of sorts to sift through Slive’s well-meaning propaganda-laced utterances.
If only such a tool would be available for use with the loving wife.
Back to Slive … Don’t get us wrong. We love the commissioner. We love his grandfatherly ways. We love that calls himself a “reformed lawyer”. We even love his choice of neckwear (silver today …) But the beloved Slive-meister can get a bit tedious.
Because Slive managed to somehow say so much, while managing to simultaneously mind-numb all 1.2 million on hand and the several elderly folks enduring him on ESPNU, we have our handy-dandy “Decoding Mike Slive” filter ready to go.
MS: “NCAA athletics has lost the benefit of the doubt.”
TRANSLATION: “With half my conference either on probation, facing probation, surrendering scholarships or trying to launder large-denomination currency through ‘bingo halls’ to their stud ballplayers, everyone with half a cranium knows we are as clean as FIFA.”
MS: “For the past 30 years, we have seen reform efforts come and go, while the NCAA manual continues to grow in size and complexity.”
TRANSLATION: “If SMU’s debacle didn’t change cheating in college football, then how could Cam Newton’s ‘recruitment’ possibly do so? And have you seen the NCAA manual? The Library of Congress needs a new wing just to contain all of it …”
MS: “An agenda that is intended to stimulate a national discussion. An agenda for change, if you will.”
TRANSLATION: “ESPN isn’t sending us enough million-dollar checks. I mean, my Jag already has 4,500 miles on it!”
MS: “Too many of our student-athletes still come to us ill-prepared academically.”
TRANSLATION: “You must be able to read and write to play football in the SEC. Reading at a certain grade level is still optional, and crayons for writing are still acceptable. But please spell your name correctly.”
MS: “We have developed an agenda that is intended to stimulate a national discussion, an agenda for change, if you will, with the hope that we will see significant action in the foreseeable future.”
TRANSLATION: “Sure, my office rakes in so much TV money that we actually out-earn UAB – a real, live school down the street – have you seen the trade-in market on used Jaguars lately?”
MS: “In the area of benefits, the issue of providing student-athletes with a full cost of attendance has been a conversation topic in recent months.”
TRANSLATION: “See Newton, Cameron.”
MS: “The first step is to develop a plan to provide these additional benefits to student-athletes in an equitable manner through a redefined grant-and-aid program linked to the full cost of attendance.”
TRANSLATION: “No, Mr. Knight, a direct-deposit system from Nike to Oregon football players does not fall under this category.””
MS: “We recognize that this proposal may be a financial hardship on some, yet at the same time economics cannot always be the reason to avoid doing what is in the best interests of our student-athletes.”
TRANSLATION: “Vandy, you’d better start selling some luxury boxes pretty quick.”
MS: “Increasing dollars allocated to this fund and encouraging schools to fully distribute the funds to student-athletes can have an immediate and positive impact on meeting the needs of our young people.”
TRANSLATION: “Now, Florida football players who need their Mary Jane fix don’t have to steal laptops and re-sell them to pay their dealer.”
MS: “Regardless of the reasons student-athletes leave early, whether to go pro, because of academic struggles or for personal or other reasons, we want to keep the door open for those who want to come back and get their degree. We should consider extending the opportunity for student-athletes to seek a baccalaureate degree through the provision of funding beyond the current permissible six-year window for awarding athletic scholarships.
TRANSLATION: “Just in case you somehow got accepted at an SEC school without, you know, being able to read or write, we want you to have as much time as humanly possible to pass Nuances Of Bowling 101 and Advanced Theories Of Basketweaving. Or to even to earn that Auburn sociology degree.”
MS: “At this time last year we were dealing with swirling media reports describing improper benefits provided to a few student-athletes by some unscrupulous agents. Since that time a working group has been put together, coordinated by the NCAA. This group consists of the NFL, the NFL PA, the American Football Coaches, the NCAA, Attorneys General, agents, and a couple of us from conference offices.
… We look forward to resuming very important dialogue once those issues are resolved.”
TRANSLATION: “Stop calling me about this, Nick Saban!”
MS: “Our goal is to give student-athletes who aspire to become professionals the opportunity to receive expert advice they need on a timely basis. They should not need to seek advice from those who do not have their best interests at heart.”
TRANSLATION: “Stop calling me about this, Nick Saban!”
MS: “One of the most important discussion areas in this agenda is to advance new ways of evaluating freshmen academic eligibility and to support proposed revisions to the two-year college transfer model.”
TRANSLATION: “When half our conference coaches offer ‘medical scholarships’ to a third of their roster in order to sign some more freshmen studs, we want those players to immediately be able to try their luck at their archrival.”
MS: “ … consider increasing the minimum GPA required for first-year athletic competition from a 2.0 to a 2.5 in the 16 required core courses”
TRANSLATION: “Congratulations to the 2016 National Champion Vanderbilt Commodores!”
MS: “We envision a system that would prescribe the number of core courses each student-athlete must successfully complete each year of high school. This would avoid the last-minute effort of high school seniors when they finally realize what they need to do to become eligible to try to cram together too many core courses.”
TRANSLATION: “Hey, high school seniors, don’t wait until three weeks before graduation before attempting to learn to read and write.”
MS: “This new model, if adopted, could result in the return of the partial qualifier category for certain enrolling freshmen. Specifically prospects who meet the current academic standards for initial eligibility, but who fail to meet the proposed new standards I just outlined, would be permitted to enroll, receive aid, engage in limited practice during their freshman year, but they would not be permitted to compete until an academically successful year in residence was fulfilled at the institution.”
TRANSLATION: “We internally call this ‘Grayshirting 2.0’.”
MS: “It's time to push the reset button on the regulatory approach to recruiting in order to move away from the idea that recruiting rules are designed to create a level playing field. There are significant differences between institutions and resources, climate, tradition, history, stadiums, and fan interest, among many other things that make the idea of a level playing field an illusion.”
TRANSLATION: “Um, yeah, Vandy? Sorry about that.”
MS: “Rather than continuing a recruiting calendar with differing rules for off-campus recruiting activity, contact days, evaluation days, let's simply establish days in which it's permissible for coaches to engage in off-campus recruiting. If a coach is permitted to travel off campus to recruit, he or she should be allowed to evaluate and have a conversation with the prospect on the same day.”
TRANSLATION: “NOW will you stop calling me, Nick Saban?”
MS: “We seek to hold the historic approach to recruiting through the scholastic setting rather than through third parties and so-called 'handlers.'”
TRANSLATION: “I am watching you, Les Miles.”