Commissioner Greg Sankey holds his opening press conference to begin SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday, July 18, 2022, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)
Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

‘Superleague’ commissioner Greg Sankey tackles SEC expansion, CFB playoff talk

ATLANTA — The Southeastern Conference doesn’t need to add any more teams to be a “Superleague,” per Greg Sankey,

It was one of many takes from the league commissioner, now in his eighth year running college football’s top conference.

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“We’re comfortable at 16, there’s no sense of urgency, no sense of panic,” Sankey said, asked his reaction to the most recent change to the collegiate football landscape with USC and UCLA set to join the Big Ten in 2024.

“We’re not just shooting for a number of affiliations that make us better. Could they be out there? I would never say they’re not. I would never say that we will,” he said. “We’re going to be evaluating the landscape.

“When I walk through the recitation, this is a Superleague.”

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Here’s what Sankey had to say about other hot-button topics at his presentation on Monday at the College Football Hall of Fame:

Could Oklahoma and Texas be joining the SEC earlier than expected?

GS: “That’s not up to me. That’s about the relationship between Oklahoma, Texas and the Big 12. We are focused on the addition being effective July 1st, 2025.”

Has the vision for the expansion of the College Football Playoff changed with recent shifts in conference alignments?

GS: “Things have changed …. If we’re going to go back to square one, we’re going to take a step back from the model introduced and rethink the approach, number of teams, whether there should be any guarantee for conference champions at all. Just earn your way in. There’s something that’s healthy competitively about that and creates expectations and support around programs.

“It’s the same type of issues that you’ve heard, AQ (automatic qualifiers), no AQ, how many teams, what’s the relationship to the bowls, when do we play these games on a calendar. We really need to look at that more deeply than we did in the previous iteration.

“I’d be fine with no AQs, whether it’s four like we have now, a model that’s worked, eight, 12. But the inclusion of conference champion access was I thought an effective compromise to the 12-team Playoff.”

Where is the SEC in its discussions on future scheduling model league structure, and the issues with a single-division model?

GS: “The list of issues, tiebreakers one, the number of games and what that means from a scheduling standpoint, the imbalance around nine games versus the comfort with eight games.

“What happens with non-conference schedules: We have a requirement that the ninth game right now be among an autonomy five-type opponent. How do we dispose of, or maintain, that particular policy?

“There are limits on the number of options available for three permanent opponents (pod) based on the number of games. Nine makes that more practical.

Could the state of current politics be an obstacle in congressional intervention on NIL matters?

GS: “We need a bipartisan solution for this national concept to move forward. If we don’t, then we’re going to be left not simply creating conference rules, we’re going to have to deal with state laws that vary in our region.

“That was actually part of our conversation in Destin as well. But the focus will remain on a national solution, and Congress is the venue for that option.”

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