NASHVILLE -- Mike Slive, commissioner of the SEC, sometimes refers to himself as "a recovering attorney."
As such, he chooses his words carefully. Slive isn't the kind guy to blurt something out. When he's in the spotlight and on the record, every comment is calculated.
That's why everyone sat up and took notice when Slive concluded the recent SEC Spring Meetings with a threat. Speaking about the push for autonomy by the five major conferences, including the SEC, Slive said he believes a new governance structure will be approved – or else.
"I am somewhat optimistic it will pass but if it doesn't, our league would certainly want to move to a Division IV," he said. "My colleagues, I can't speak for anybody else, but I'd be surprised if they didn't feel the same way."
First things first: If you believe Slive has not discussed this option with his counterparts at the Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12, you haven't been paying attention. They've been in lockstep on most major issues since this whole reform idea took flight a year ago.
The Gang Of 65 is in this together.
Secondly, Slive isn't prone to making idle threats. He wouldn't have thrown this possibility out there if he didn't want everyone to know he means business.
But a succession plan is a bad idea.
Frankly, I'm a little surprised at the regional media's bandwagon-hopping support of Slive's saber-rattling. Many of my friends and colleagues around the South have done everything but kiss the commissioner's ring and thank him for telling all those loser conferences to shove it.
Sounds like my buddies are sucking up and trying to get a guest spot on the SEC Network.
Let's be clear: Slive prefers that the SEC and others remain in a modified Division I – as long as the modified Division I allows the SEC and other power conferences to do whatever they please.
"We think the NCAA is better served and college athletics is better served if we stay in Division I," he said. "We all want to be in the NCAA and we want to all be in Division I."
With that said, he wants the NCAA and Division I to play by his rules.
Look, I like Slive and think he's one of the smartest people I've ever met – inside or outside the sports world. He landed as SEC commissioner in 2002 with the reputation of a consensus-builder. But in the last half-dozen years or so, we've discovered he is a true visionary and a man who can twist arms with the best of them.
And since he's operating from the bully pulpit afforded the commissioner of the SEC, he usually gets his way.
Be careful for what you wish, though. If you break off and form your own division – inside or outside the NCAA – things get complicated.
This just in: The reigning NCAA champion in both men's and women's basketball is UConn, which plays in the American Athletic Conference. Thus, UConn is not a prospective member of Division IV.
What kind of a basketball tournament would you have without UConn? Or Marquette? Or Butler? Or Gonzaga?
And how about the baseball tournament? Six of the 16 teams that are still playing are not potential Division IV material.
Need I go on?
Slive has said he thinks the SEC and other power conferences would continue to play in the NCAA Tournament even if they break off and form Division IV. I'm not so sure. At some point, the other 284 members of the current NCAA Division I, many of which do not play football, are going to get tired of being pushed around and given ultimatums.
We've already seen some push-back. The NCAA Governance Steering Committee put together a reform package that met with the SEC's approval but the committee also recommended it require a two-thirds majority vote to pass the legislation. The SEC wants a lower voting threshold for approval.
This is getting interesting. About two months from now, we'll see if the Haves and Have Nots of college sports can coexist peacefully or if we are on the verge of a new world disorder for intercollegiate athletics.