Mike Hamilton didn't have to wait on Texas' decision.
Even before the Longhorns decided Monday to remain in the Big 12 and decline the Pac-10's invitation, the Tennessee athletic director had a strong stance on sweetening the pot for any school that was considering joining the SEC.
Hamilton quickly nixed the notion that the SEC should offer financial concessions to any school - namely Texas - to join what most believe is the strongest football conference in the nation.
"I believe with all my heart that this is a great league and we don't need to be a concessionist to anybody to have them be a member of our league," Hamilton said Monday on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page. " I believe that firmly. And if you look at some of the schools that have been referred to and you compare them up against the success of the other schools in our league, why should they be?"
Many believe Texas was posturing to get the best deal it could from either the Big 12 or the Pac-10. The Associated Press reported Monday that Texas is clear to set up its own TV network and keep all proceeds in exchange for remaining in the Big 12.
The SEC, however, splits bowl and television revenue evenly among its 12 members.
Texas' announcement that it will stay in the Big 12 would seem to eliminate the possibility that there will be a paradigm shift among the BCS conferences in college football.
That's just fine with Hamilton.
"I kind of fall in the category of I wish it could have stayed the way it was," he said. "For us, I think we've had a great league for a long time.
"But the (SEC) commissioner made it clear that if there was a paradigm shift . . . we'd respond well."
The SEC has been viewed largely in a reactive position, waiting to see what the Big Ten and Pac-10 do to improve their conferences and, subsequently, their television packages. Hamilton disagreed with the assessment that the SEC is in a wait-and-see mode.
"We are being proactive; it's just not that it's out in the public," he said. "There's a lot of conversations being had and it's kind of like a high-stakes poker game, you're trying to decide what card to play when."
The trump card seemed to be the SEC's advances toward Texas A&M, which, according to multiple media reports, was ready to join the SEC instead of the Pac-10 if Texas left the Big 12. Instead Texas A&M pledged along with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to remain in the Big 12.
Credit SEC commissioner Mike Slive with stymieing the paradigm shift thanks to some behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
"He's got tremendous power," Hamilton said. "I think he's certainly one of the most powerful people in college athletics. He sat on the basketball committee. He was the head of the BCS oversight committee. He's a bright guy.
"He does completely have the confidence of the presidents in our league"
That power, Hamilton said, made negotiations easier for the SEC.
"He can go out at times like this and almost be a one-man reconnaissance team out there, as it relates to conference expansion, and have some discussions without getting a tremendous number of people formally involved," Hamilton said.
Stadium Renovations: Hamilton said the brick fa<0x00E7>ade at Florida State's Doak Campbell Stadium provided some of the ideas for Neyland Stadiums re-facing.
Fans will quickly notice that the front of Neyland Stadium has been resurfaced in brick, much like Doak Campbell.
"Doak Campbell was one of the ugliest stadiums in America in the mid-80s," Hamilton said. "That's somewhat of the vision here. Florida State was one of the places we went to.
Hamilton said he's considered a second big screen in Neyland Stadium, despite some serious architectural challenges to overcome.
"We've talked about it on the north end," Hamilton said. "You would have to basically raise the roof . . . or do a seat kill and put it in between the roof and seats in the north end zone.
"We've had the architects kind of looking at some different scenarios for both of those options. My preference would be to kick the roof higher and to add some seats on either side and put the screen in the middle of that.
"The addition of seats would really be contingent on the demand issue, and right now that's not there for us, but in the long run we'd like to have another screen in the north end zone."
Complex Renovations: Hamilton said formal construction of the extension of the Neyland-Thompson Football Complex should start later this year.
"We've got about $34 million pledged to that structure right now," Hamilton said. "Just down the street from us (at Neyland Stadium) they're remodeling the basketball offices for our head coaches and their staffs. That project will be finished in October.
"Then if you were to go across campus you'd see that we are in the process of expanding our indoor tennis complex from four courts to six courts. That's really the three active projects right now."