Slive has pointed message for SEC coaches

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

DESTIN, Fla. -- Given what's been a wild offseason of football coaches sniping at each other, SEC commissioner Mike Slive reminded everybody Tuesday the importance of playing nice.

Slive met briefly with the 12 football coaches and will talk more in detail Wednesday when he meets with both the coaches and athletic directors in the same meeting. His message will be "to keep the focus on the field."

The SEC adopted a set of principles in 2004 aimed at keeping disagreements in-house and going through the proper protocol within the conference office if there were problems or complaints.

"We expect those principles to be followed," Slive said.

Although Slive issued just one public reprimand this offseason (to Tennessee's Lane Kiffin for erroneously accusing Florida's Urban Meyer of cheating), the commissioner said he monitored everything.

He acknowledged that there was some degree of judgment in determining what rose to the level of a reprimand and what didn't, but said one coach publicly using the word "cheating" in describing another coach's recruiting efforts was pretty much an automatic reprimand.

Kiffin did his best to play everything off prior to the initial round of meetings Tuesday with the coaches. He said he and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier talked briefly as Spurrier was coming off the elevator at the hotel.

"I think at the end of the day everybody understands we all have specific jobs to our university and there should be nothing personal," Kiffin said.

Peppered by the Florida media about whether or not he felt he owed Meyer an additional apology, Kiffin smirked and said jokingly, "No, I'm still waiting for Coach Spurrier's apology for calling me out on the first day I was there, saying I didn't take my (recruiting) test. I haven't gotten that yet, either."