Greg Sankey on “Turbulence”, Planning, PSC and Alliance Collaboration: “My Cell Phone Has Not Changed”
Greg Sankey was keen to clear up any confusion on Wednesday over the SEC’s invitation to Texas and Oklahoma to the league, the CFP expansion talks and, of course, the new Pac-12 alliance, the Big Ten and ACC.
The SEC commissioner made appearances on the “Paul Finebaum Show” as well as the 1010XL 92.5 in Jacksonville and once again clarified a few things.
“We all have a responsibility to put our feelings aside and engage in some kind of conversation that gets us going,” Sankey told Finebaum. “I am ready to participate.
The question is, do the conference commissioners of the alliance feel the same way?
Here are some of the topics Sankey touched on Wednesday:
Addition of Texas and Oklahoma
Texas and Oklahoma have contacted the SEC. Not the opposite. Sankey brought up the idea that the addition of the two Big 12 programs to his league has somehow transformed the conference leaders of the alliance against the SEC.
“Some of them mystify me,” he told 1010XL. “Do I take offense? No, I think there is a bit of an old playbook. When you try to navigate through certain things – when anonymous athletic directors said this, or an anonymous athletic director said that – it’s a strategy.
“The words ‘trust’, ‘communication’ and ‘collaboration’ were plentiful (at the alliance press conference). I haven’t yet heard any of them say, “I wouldn’t have done the same as you if this opportunity had materialized.”
Yet there is no big plan. The latest news during the SEC Media Days that the Longhorns and Sooners contacted at the conference upset the big plans that could have been made.
“We don’t have a timetable,” Sankey said. “We are focusing on entry on July 1, 2025.”
He asked SEC members, “How do we approach a new world from the Southeastern Conference?” “
Sankey found “useful” and “clarified” that the Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC will honor current agreements for future non-conference games. “It could be an exciting game,” he said.
On the other hand, there were comments that made him think. The idea that conference matches played by the alliance could be scaled down to schedule additional non-conference clashes between the alliance teams piqued Sankey’s interest.
“I thought one of the more curious statements was talking to TV partners to cut down on conference games to provide a more compelling match through alignment,” Sankey explained.
“I think the great thing about the Southeastern Conference is that every week is an interesting game.”
There are 68 non-conference games scheduled between 2022 and 2035 for alliance conferences. This number rises to over 100 including Notre-Dame.
“Last year we didn’t have any non-conference games with the Big Ten teams,” Sankey said. “This stuff went quickly. By the way, this was not from the Southeastern Conference.
There are non-conference games between the SEC and alliance conferences, but the most pressing issue – for Sankey anyway – is the scarcity of his league members facing cross-divisional opponents on the road.
“Big picture, I asked our members, ‘How do we get our people to our campuses more frequently? ”Sankey asked, citing once every 12 years must change.
An expanded CFP
No, Sankey had no idea the SEC had Oklahoma and Texas in its back pocket when it spoke of a 12-team CFP proposal. And no, that was not part of a master plan to hijack an expanded CFP.
Still, the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC seem to want more say in the playoff format. Sankey explained that they gave their comments in late 2018 and early 2019.
Granted, the leadership looked different in the Pac-12 and the ACC, but the consensus was aimed at expanding.
“The contribution included these lectures,” he said.
While it is true that no member of the alliance was involved in the PCP executive task force – only Sankey, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and Craig Thompson of Mountain. West – Sankey said there was little personal gain for the SEC in expanding.
“We could stay at four,” Sankey explained. “Quatre is working very well for the Southeastern Conference. It can. He has. And it will be.
But it’s not about the SEC, Sankey said, it’s about improving the college football playoff experience for everyone involved.
Moving forward with the alliance
Sankey has every intention of working with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips and Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. It remains to be seen whether this is reciprocal or not.
“Part of what I heard yesterday was the willingness to collaborate,” Sankey explained. “What I heard is that they are certainly talking to each other. They spoke to an 11 member athletic directors committee, but my cell phone has not changed. My willingness to collaborate has not changed.
“My interest in having in-depth conversations about the future of not only the college football playoffs, but the entire college track business is still central to my existence every day.”
He reiterated that the SEC will be part of this conversation, although there is some embarrassment due to the new dynamics in varsity athletics.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues,” he said. “We have obviously created turbulence in the college sport system.
“College sport is a treasured and cherished American tradition. There has always been change. I have seen that when the news revolves around the SEC, the volume is often higher.
“There is always change around college athletics. It is happening now. We all have a responsibility to put our feelings aside and engage in some kind of conversation that keeps us going.
“I am definitely ready to participate.
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on twitter @Mark_Heim.