One of the most powerful men in all of sports is recovering from what appears to be a minor medical procedure.
Via Twitter, the SEC announced Thursday afternoon that commissioner Mike Slive “underwent successful surgery Tuesday to relieve pain he had experienced in his back for several weeks.” In another tweet, the conference wrote that “Commissioner Slive is receiving great care from his doctors and will be watching SEC games from home this weekend.”
Slive is expected to be released from the hospital in short order.
Under Slive’s stewardship the past 12-plus years, the SEC has seen unprecedented growth in sports in general and football specifically. And specifically as it relates to the amount of money going into membership coffers.
The SEC Network, Slive’s sports pride and joy and a future source of significant revenue for memebrs, will televise its first live football game tonight as Texas A&M travels to Columbia to take on South Carolina.
Slive turned 74 last month, and there’s been talk that he could step down at some point in the near future. In an excellent profile that appeared in USA Today this morning, Slive addressed the retirement question head on when he was asked about a specific timetable for a departure.
“I’ll be done when I’m done. When they don’t want me anymore or when I don’t want to be there,” the commish said.
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury