By Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press
NASHVILLE - Mike Slive helped propose the plus-one plan to find a national champion in football and says actual change remains a couple years away even if everyone can agree on changes to the Bowl Championship Series.
The Southeastern Conference commissioner said Wednesday a decision could be made later this year but cautioned it's premature to speculate on what changes might be made. He says they need time to sit down and analyze plans with discussions needed among the conferences.
"Really a lot of this discussion is premature, and I want to respect the process that we're in," Slive told members of the Nashville Sports Council during a question-and-answer session. "We've had four-year formats since we started. We've done it on the basis of four years, so each four-year period you have to sit down and decide what format is going to be going forward. So we have decided to sit down and talk about this from every different side."
Slive said they started discussions the day after Alabama beat LSU for the SEC's sixth consecutive national championship in January with another meeting scheduled later this month. He said there will be several meetings on the topic after he saw no interest from his colleagues or other conferences in pursuing a four-team playoff to decide the BCS champ back in 2008.
The format of pairing four teams playing two semifinals plus the title game was proposed by Slive and the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference only to be shot down by leaders of the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East, Big 12 and Notre Dame.
Now the Big Ten is expressing interest in changes.
"What would it look like and whether it's actually going to happen, all of that is premature," Slive said. "I think we need the time to sit down and analyze it. We need time to take ideas back to our respective conferences and ... a decision to be made sometime later this year as we begin to talk about the ... next format."
The SEC commissioner said they also need to look very carefully at how any changes affect traditions like bowl games. Before the session, he said they have two years left in the current format, leaving plenty of time to work through any changes.
He's also not sure what prompted the current interest in the plus-one plan.
"It's been an enormous success for us to have four different teams win the national championship over the last six years has been incredible and unusual. It's a record that'll never be broken," Slive said. "Whatever it is that brings people to the table, I'm glad they're coming."
Slive shot down talk of any further expansion. The SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri as the league's 13th and 14th members with the 2012 football schedules released only a few weeks ago, and conference officials have many more details to handle.
"We're at 14," the commissioner said. "It's going to take us time to absorb. I don't know if you realize how difficult it is to take two institutions and move them into 12 other institutions whether it's scheduling or the way we're working together. So we have our hands full for now."
Slive's appearance came in part to help promote the SEC's women's basketball tournament in Nashville starting March 1. Slive noted between 2001 and 2019 the league will wind up playing 11 basketball tournaments in Nashville with the men's tournament coming to town in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019.