Remembering Mike Slive’s impact on Texas A&M’s move to the SEC

(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images) /

Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive passed away yesterday. He had a tremendous impact on Texas A&M in putting their move to the SEC in motion.

“Howdy, Aggieland, and welcome to the Southeastern Conference.” When hearing those words from then-SEC commissioner Mike Slive, most everyone affiliated with Texas A&M University had a smile on their face. Moving to the Southeastern Conference was a long time coming, especially for those who lived through the Southwest Conference days.

Losing the t.u. rivalry game was a big blow, no doubt, but re-kindling the LSU rivalry, along with joining a football conference that is leaps and bounds the best conference in football, and miles ahead of the Big 12(-2).

Aggies would finish in the bottom of the conference every year, they said.

Aggies don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, they said.

Six winning football seasons later, I think it’s safe to say the move was a smart one. It all started with Mike Slive sitting on his porch, smoking a cigar and receiving a call from then-Aggie president Dr. R. Bowen Loftin.

Slive passed away last night at the age of 77.

Loftin recalled Slive’s impact on the university’s move to the SEC in an interview with

"In late 2009, early 2010, I was aware what was going on between UT-Austin and the Pac-12 and that disturbed me. I reached out to Mike Slive because I wanted Texas A&M to have it’s own options in case something happened. I called him the day we made a decision in 2010 to tell him we wouldn’t be making a change in conference alignment, but he kept the option open. We also had a quiet meeting at the Cotton Bowl when A&M played LSU. Then I called him in 2011 in July as he sat on his back porch smoking a cigar and we really started to put the plan into motion. His patience and ability to persevere never ceased to amaze me."

Slive was the SEC commissioner from 2002-2015. He ran the league during arguably its best years as a football conference. The SEC won the national championship in 2003, for seven straight years in 2006-2012, and Alabama won in his final year in 2015.

Under his tenure, the schools earned five times more revenue from the year he started compared to the year he retired. A&M helped a great deal in that regard thanks to a short, electrifying quarterback named Johnny Football.

That revenue, Johnny Football’s Heisman campaign, and Texas A&M being the only Texas school in the SEC helped not only build first-rate facilities and $400 million Kyle Field renovations, but allowed Kevin Sumlin to be incredibly successful as a recruiter, success Jimbo Fisher has continued since taking over.

Also, as Loftin notes in the TexAgs interview, Slive was critical in forming the College Football Playoff, which has been massively successful. It is a much better system than the former BCS, even though some schools still have their gripes when left out.

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There are plenty of reasons to respect and honor Mike Slive. His work with the SEC in general is always worth noting, but Texas A&M fans should forever revere Slive for his influence in the conference realignment and the positive effect it has had on the university.

Jeff Shull is the Site Expert for the Gig Em Gazette on FanSided. Follow him on Twitter, and be sure to follow the Gig Em Gazette on Facebook and Twitter.