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June 1, 2012
DESTIN, Fla. - The Southeastern Conference remains steadfast in its unanimous support of a four-team playoff. League commissioner Mike Slive said Friday at the conclusion of SEC meetings in Destin the conference won't back off its view that the four best teams should be selected to play for a national championship.
The SEC does not favor a plus-one system in which conference champions are awarded automatic berths to play for a national championship.
"The league unanimously supports what I've been saying all along," Slive said. "One, that we are interested in a four-team playoff, and that those four teams be the top four teams in the country."
The conference hasn't reached a consensus about many of the other issues surrounding a four-team playoff. Slive said there seemed to be support for using bowl games as the semifinal sites in a four-team playoff, but the conference didn't vote on it.
Perhaps most importantly, the league is still discussing what the best way to determine the four best teams in the country at the end of the regular season. Options that have been floated include keeping the BCS in place and selecting the top four teams from the standings, tweaking the computer formulas, or creating a selection committee similar to the way the NCAA men's basketball tournament field is chosen.
Several options were discussed, and while some proposals seemed to gain more support than others, Slive wasn't ready to say which appeared to be the leading idea among the SEC's member schools.
"If people aren't happy with the current system of how we rank them, then let's go back and look at the system that creates one through four," Slive said. "Once we do that, I'm very open to looking at how we do that, whether it's a committee or a different set of data points. But I think you go back to the source of the issue rather than dealing with a byproduct of the issue where you end up gerrymandering who is playing for the national championship."
Slive believes college football fans support the league's position that the four best teams, rather than a selection of conference champions, should play for the national championship.
"I really haven't deviated from this position," he said. "If we're going to go to a four-team playoff as I anticipate we are, it needs to be and the fans would expect us to provide the four best teams in the country 1-2-3-4."
It doesn't appear the SEC will leave much, if any, room for compromise when it enters discussions with the other conferences about the four-team playoff. Asked if the SEC had a fallback position if other conferences favor another system, Slive reiterated "1-2-3-4."
"I am hopeful that we can all come to some agreement that works for everybody," Slive said. "We will go into that discussion with what we believe is in the best interest not only of the Southeastern Conference, but for everybody."