Texas A&M fans are envisioning playing Florida, Alabama or LSU in prime time or maybe on Labor Day in the Aggies' maiden Southeastern Conference game next season. They're not alone.
"I've thought about [A&M's first league game]," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "In my non-scheduling mind, I could conjure up a heck of an event. I've asked the transition team to take a look at that to see if there is something we could work out. It would be a lot of fun."
Slive said the assumption is that A&M will be in the West Division along with Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi and Mississippi State in what will be an unbalanced league of 13 teams unless another team is added.
"That's what makes sense to me but I don't want to get ahead of our transition team," Slive said on a national teleconference call Tuesday afternoon along with A&M president R. Bowen Loftin. [And] I don't want to get ahead of our [athletic directors]. We're going to let them work through all these issues."
Slive also clarified comments he made at Monday night's press conference at The Zone regarding the SEC's 15-year television contracts with ESPN ($2.25 billion) and CBS ($825 million). The deal with ESPN has a look-in clause that will allow the league to renegotiate. There's no look-in clause in the deal with CBS, but Slive they are in the process of scheduling a negotiation this fall. Slive is confident both sides will be pleased.
Slive also detailed how the SEC handles its third-tier rights.
"All of our [football] games belong to the conference package except that we provide one pay-per-view opportunity for each of our institutions on an annual basis," Slive said.
Along with ESPN and CBS, the SEC Network game of the week is in 73 million homes. The league also has cable packages with Comcast and FOX.
"The SEC distributes its revenue from our conference package equally," Slive said. "We have some very minor appearance fees, but they really don't amount to much. For the most part, all of our institutions get the same amount of money from our package."
The SEC made a record $220 million last year, distributing $18.3 million to each school. That included $113 million from football television, $31.3 million from bowls, $15.3 million from the SEC Football Championship, $31.1 million from basketball television, $5 million from the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament and $24.3 million from NCAA Championships.
The Big 12 made a record $145 million in revenue distribution for 2010-11. The conference, which does not have equal revenue sharing, did not release a school-by-school breakdown. The league lost Nebraska and Colorado at the end of the year.
The Big 12 is now talking about equal revenue sharing on its first- and second-tier TV packages, but allowing each school to keep its third-tier rights. Texas' Longhorn Network falls under the third-tier category. UT's 15-year, $300 million deal played a part in the Aggies leaving the Big 12.
"Months ago we engaged a talented consultant to help Texas A&M look forward to its future in terms of better utilizing its third-tier rights," Loftin said. "That's in play right now, so I have no answers for you, yet. We are working very actively with our consultant and internal team to do the very best we can to the rights we retain at Texas A&M for our fan base, exposing our athletes to every bit of the public that we can and to secure the best revenues from that."
Slive said the league also will look into possibly adding another bowl game to its existing nine -- Sugar, Jan. 3 in New Orleans; Capital One, Jan. 2 in Orlando; Outback, Jan. 2 in Tampa; AT&T Cotton, Jan. 6 in Dallas; Chick-Fil-A, Dec. 31 in Atlanta; Gator, Jan. 2 in Jacksonville; Music City, Dec. 30 in Nashville; AutoZone, Dc. 31 in Memphis; and BBVA Compass, Jan. 7 Birmingham.
NOTES -- Arkansas won its inaugural SEC game when it joined the league in 1992. The Razorbacks won a 45-7 road game on Sept. 12 at South Carolina, which also joined the league that year in the SEC's only other expansion. South Carolina had its SEC opener and season opener the previous week with 14th-ranked Georgia grabbing a 29-6 victory in Columbia, S.C. Arkansas beat S. Carolina behind interim head coach Joe Kines. The defensive coordinator was promoted after Arkansas fired head coach Jack Crowe after losing a 10-3 opener to The Citadel. Arkansas lost its SEC home opener in Little Rock to ninth-ranked Alabama 38-11. ... The remaining Big 12 ADs met in Grapevine on Tuesday, meeting for four hours with nothing significant coming out of it.