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Zone read: Mike Slive doesn’t want conference champions in a potential playoff

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(Dave Martin/AP)

Editor's note: Just a reminder, going to be a little slow on the blog the next few days because of a family emergency. But don't worry, it won't be barren for long.

The Zone Read is your morning college football primer to make you seem like the smartest person at the water cooler even if you're not.

Mike Slive might be in favor of a playoff, but he doesn't want it to be among the conference champions.

Slive, the SEC commissioner, didn't offer a suggestion for how he'd like to see playoffs play out, but did say that he's open to evaluating all options.

"I'm willing to have a conversation about (only conference champions), but if you were going to ask me today, that would not be the way I want to go," Slive said. "It really is early in the discussions, notwithstanding what some commissioners say publicly. There's still a lot of information that needs to be generated."

The four-team playoff seems to be the idea that commissioners and many athletic directors and coaches seem to favor, though no official decision on the fate of the BCS is expected any time soon. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was the first to talk about conference champions in an interview with the New York Times. The SEC talked about playoffs during their meetings last month, but didn't reach a consensus and will talk about it again during spring meetings in Destin, Fla.

[Related: Missouri faces line issues as it gears up for SEC play]

While Slive isn't ready to commit to anything, he did say that he would way the pros and cons of using campus sites for semifinals, an idea that was proposed by the Big Ten.

"There are plusses and minuses to that concept," Slive said. "One is that you're playing a couple games to determine the national champion and to make it a home game for somebody has always been perceived as a competitive advantage. The NCAA men's basketball tournament is not played at the homes of the higher seeds. So you have to look at that.

"The other side is there would be the question of fan travel and the ability to travel to one or more games. You guarantee good attendance (at a campus stadium) -- for one team. It needs to be looked at carefully. It's on the table and it should be on the table."

Slive said before anything is decided, he wants to hear input from the players. He also said that college football also has to consider the bowl system, including the bowls that make up the BCS and shell out the most cash.

Glass half empty: Colorado coach Jon Embree is one of the few coaches that doesn't see the merits of changing the kickoff rules, which includes moving the kickoff line up from the 30 to the 35-yard line. In fact, Embree thinks the new rules, which were adopted for the 2012 season, could lead to greater injuries.

That's because he expects teams to get wise and find kickers to kick the ball short of the end zone. Under the new rules, if the ball ends up in the end zone, a touchback brings the ball out to the 25-yard line rather than the 20. So a kicker will try to kick the ball high to give his team time to get to the returner and not as deep, which puts the returner at risk.

"I think you high pooch it and cover it," Embree told the Boulder Daily Camera. "What I think will happen is if you get effective at that, you're putting the other team even more at risk than what the rule intended because unless he fair catches it, he can really take a shot because everyone is closer obviously."

The kickoff rules were changed after injuries stared mounting during kickoffs, including an increase in concussions. The injury to Rutgers Eric LeGrand, who suffered a hit against Army in 2010 and is now a quadriplegic, prompted former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano to call for a change in the rule.

"It will be interesting to see how that plays out," Embree said. "If you get a guy who can kick it to the 7-yard line every time, you can mishandle it and then you will have collisions. It will be interesting to see if they tweak this rule over time. The returner has to have good judgment and a good feel. You're never used to fair catching kickoffs, even though that is something you can do. There are a lot of timing issues that go into a kickoff return that now you're going to have to figure out as a return guy."

[Related: This is a big spring for QB Landry Jones and Oklahoma]

For the love of the game: Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones acknowledged that the NFL's draft advisory council informed him that he'd be a first-round pick if he came out after his junior season. But Jones said he made up his mind to return on New Years Eve and he doesn't regret the decision.

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(Matt Kartozian/US Presswire)

"The NFL is always going to be there," Jones said Monday. "I just wanted to come back and enjoy my senior year."

Jones junior year didn't exactly end up the way many envisioned. Oklahoma started the season as the nation's consensus No. 1 team, but a loss to Texas Tech in the middle of the year dashed any hopes for a national title berth — as did subsequent losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State — and the loss of receiver Ryan Broyles to a knee injury hurt Jones' bottom line. In the final four games of the year, Jones threw just one touchdown pass and was upstaged by freshman Blake Bell, who scored 13 touchdowns out of the Sooners "Belldozer" package, which basically amounted to Bell taking the snap and running over defenders at the goal line.

But having Jones back for another year signifies good things for Oklahoma. The Sooners would have been among the top contenders for the 2012 national title anyway, but with Jones back, it gives them a better chance to finish the job.

Sticky notes: Randy Edsall thinks change doesn't happen overnight, unless, of course, he's involved... Michigan coach Brady Hoke, basketball coach John Bellein and athletic director Dave Brandon will help host a six-day seminar to teach business leadership to business executives… Missouri SEC billboards are coming to Jacksonville, Fla., and Atlanta… Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin confirmed via twitter that the Aggies are South Carolina's new rival… And Tim Beckman institutes "Illini Time" which means the difference between steak instead of porridge (you have to read the article to understand that).

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