TUSCALOOSA — SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was conspicuously absent from the Iron Bowl. On Monday, Slive told the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in Birmingham that he would be attending Friday’s game in Tuscaloosa.
SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said Slive watched the game from the SEC office in Birmingham and has not traveled to a game since Oct. 2. Bloom said Slive has been “kind of tired” and that the SEC office was the best place for him to be.
While speaking to the Monday Morning Quarterback Club this week, Slive addressed the Cam Newton investigation before any audience members could ask questions.
“We are in the midst of gathering established facts and I can’t emphasize that enough,” Slive said. “We are in the midst of gathering established facts, and when those facts are established, decisions will be made and then we will move ahead from that point on.”
In the spring, SEC members gave Slive new authority to suspend coaches or players over NCAA and SEC rules violations. Slive made the unprecedented move last week of suspending Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl for eight conference games.
“I was clear that in imposing the penalty in the Pearl matter I was sending a message,” Slive said in an interview. “In the Pearl matter, I thought we had the established facts and, based on the expectations of our conference, that it was appropriate for the conference to act at that point, notwithstanding the NCAA is still doing its investigative case.”
Tide players battered in loss
Several Alabama players suffered injuries during Friday’s 28-27 loss to Auburn. Crimson Tide defensive back Mark Barron said he tore his right pectoral muscle. He said the play occurred in the second quarter when Auburn quarterback Cam Newton hit Emory Blake for a 36-yard touchdown pass.
That prevented him from make a hit on a Newton’s 70-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Zachary in the third quarter.
“I couldn’t pick my arm up,” Barron said. “I couldn’t make the tackle. I’m going to get an MRI. I don’t know exactly how bad it is so I can’t tell if I’ll be out or not.”
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter on a hit by Auburn defensive back T’Sharvan Bell. Alabama coach Nick Saban said McElroy is expected to recover for the bowl game.
Alabama receiver Julio Jones suffered a knee injury, which limited his play in the second half. And receiver Darius Hanks suffered bruised ribs.
Alabama now plays a waiting game on its bowl destination, based largely on today’s LSU-Arkansas game and Auburn-South Carolina next week at the SEC Championship Game.
This much is certain: The Crimson Tide (9-3 overall, 5-3 SEC) won’t reach a Bowl Championship Series game for the third straight year. Alabama will likely be in the Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1 in Orlando#, Cotton Bowl #Jan. 7 in Dallas) or Outback Bowl (Jan. 1 in Tampa).
The Capital One has the first SEC selection after the BCS. The bowl must select the team with the next best overall record or a team that is within one win of the team with the next best overall record.
The Cotton and Outback share the third and fourth selections. The Cotton has the first preference of teams from the West Division and the Outback has the first choice from the East, although their selections don’t have to be predicated by division.
A big question is how many SEC teams place in the BCS, and which ones. If LSU #10-1, 6-1) defeats Arkansas (9-2, 5-2), the Tigers would be in good position to reach the Sugar Bowl as long as Auburn defeats South Carolina.
That would leave the Capital One to choose between three-loss Alabama and three-loss Arkansas to pair against the Big Ten, possibly Michigan State, Wisconsin or Ohio State. Alabama beat Arkansas this season. The Crimson Tide hasn’t played in the Orlando bowl since defeating Ohio State in 1995 — Arkansas was there in 2006 — so that might make Alabama more attractive.
But if Arkansas defeats LSU, then the Crimson Tide is competing with LSU for Orlando. In that scenario, LSU would have one more victory than Alabama and has beaten the Crimson Tide.
However, LSU played in the Capital One just last season, losing to Penn State. Would LSU and the Capital One want that marriage for a second straight year?
Even if Arkansas defeats LSU, there is no guarantee the Razorbacks would receive an at-large BCS berth at 10-2. So Arkansas would be thrown into the mix with Alabama and LSU.
An extra wrinkle is what happens if South Carolina defeats Auburn. The Gamecocks would be a BCS team in the Sugar Bowl, and Auburn would undoubtedly be an at-large BCS team with a 12-1 record, possibly in the Orange Bowl. Only two teams per conference can play in a BCS bowl.
There’s also the issue of how the SEC bowls would treat a four- or five-loss South Carolina if it loses to Auburn. Potentially, the SEC East champion Gamecocks could slip all the way down to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which picks after the Cotton and Outback.
But the Chick-fil-A would probably be leery of a team returning to Atlanta in the same month. That could move the Gamecocks into the Outback and, depending on how many SEC teams move up to the BCS, take away a spot from Alabama, Arkansas or LSU.