HOOVER, Ala. - One month from kickoff of the SEC Network, commissioner Mike Slive assured "there are ongoing, significant conversations" with major cable providers who have yet to jump on board.
Slive didn't try to hide what was at the heart of his annual State of the SEC address. "This is a commercial," he told reporters packed in the second-floor ballroom of the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover.
Indeed, Slive spent much of his 21-minute speech reiterating old news about the conference's new television network, which will launch Aug. 14 - one month from Monday.
Live events will be the heart of the Network's content, Slive said. By the fourth week of the season, the SEC Network will have originated a game from every stadium in the conference. It begins Aug. 28 when South Carolina hosts Texas A&M.
There will also be original programming. SEC stories, a documentary series, will produce a film about South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. The show will air within the Network's first month on television.
Availability of the SEC Network remains a disconcerting question. Current cable providers offering the SEC Network include AT&T U-verse and DISH Network. The conference added Cox Communications last week, and the Network will also be distributed through Google Fiber.
That leaves several prominent cable providers without SEC Network.
"I strongly encourage anyone interested in the SEC Network to visit getSECNetwork.com," Slive said.
Slive keeps calling for NCAA to change
Amidst the national attention sparked by the Ed O'Bannon trial, Slive continued to call for the NCAA to change Monday.
That's nothing new. Slive has been calling for changes the past three years, starting with the 2011 SEC Media Days. He called the current state of college athletics "a historic time," saying it's important to seize the moment.
"We are not deaf to the din of discontent across collegiate athletics that has dominated the news," Slive said. "In the words of former president Dwight David Eisenhower, I quote, 'Neither a wise man, nor a brave man, lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.'"
Slive said the goal should be to "restructure the NCAA in accordance to our vision for the 21st century with the student-athlete at its core."
Auburn QB will 'deal with consequences'
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn put an interesting spin on quarterback Nick Marshall's absence from SEC Media Days.
Marshall, considered a Heisman Trophy contender entering the season, was cited for marijuana possession last week. Late Sunday night, Malzahn replaced Marshall with senior tight end C.J. Uzomah.
"It is a privilege and a reward to represent Auburn here at the SEC Media Days," Malzahn explained Monday. "Last Friday, Nick lost that privilege. We have high expectations for our players, but specifically our quarterback, being the face of our program."
A "privilege" is one way to look at it, though Malzahn has often approached media duties as more of an obligation. Some might consider Malzahn merely protecting a star player from facing the media following a controversial event. As a leader for a team hoping to return to the national championship game, Marshal would have faced tough questions Monday.
Instead, those tough questions will have to wait.
Malzahn said Marshall will have to "deal with the consequences" of his citation. When asked, he would not say what kind of punishment awaited.
Mason searching for 'Vanderbilt man'
Former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin put the Commodores on the map because he could sell his program - a historically dormant team - better than anyone.
It's a challenge new head coach Derek Mason must embrace. In Mason's introduction to the conference Monday, the first-year head coach offered his pitch.
"Vanderbilt has its own brand," Mason said. "It sits in the SEC, which is the best conference in college football. For us, when we talk about who we are, what we look like, the idea of using the brand, the brand of academics and athletics, as well as recruiting a certain type of young man, that young man is called a Vanderbilt man."