ATLANTA — SEC commissioner Greg Sankey came across as a bit of a braggart Monday morning at the College Football Hall of Fame.
It’s hard to blame him: SEC football has established itself as the clear-cut leader in the collegiate ranks.
Sankey, in defending the league’s often-discussed schedule model on Monday, pointed out that the SEC:
• Has placed at least one team in the national title game 11 of the past 12 years
• Has had a conference team win the national championship game nine of the past 12 years.
• Is the only league to have two teams play in the national title game, a feat accomplished twice
• Is the only conference to have 10 teams qualify for bowl games four consecutive seasons (2013-2016)
• Has led the nation in football attendance the past 19 years
Sankey initiated the discussion about the league’s “6-1-1” scheduling model, recalling what he said was a year-long review of “quite literally every possible scheduling option available” back in 2014.
Sankey said the current model, in which the teams play each divisional member (6), a permanent opponent from the opposite division, and a rotating opponent from the opposite division was “the clear preference of the SEC member institutions.”
Still, the SEC football scheduling model is questioned.
Some charge that it’s unbalanced in favor of certain teams. Others allege that by not playing a ninth league game, schedules are somewhat watered down.
Sankey, who took over as league commissioner in March of 2015, says the league’s athletic directors look at scheduling information annually.
His conclusion is that no changes are necessary.
“Our success as a league should not be attributed simply to our scheduling philosophy,” Sankey said. “But year after year, our best teams have produced the best team in the country.
“The facts candidly speak for themselves.”
Nine League Games?
Still, Sankey has made it a point to follow-up thoroughly on criticisms and trends.
“Today I’ve seen observations that we should be the nine-game schedule, (and) one of those conversations that we’ve had with the College Football Playoff selection committee chair is about the conference schedule piece,” Sankey said.
“What they’ve said is, we look at the entire schedule. That’s the issue that our schools have to be and our teams have to be mindful of is the entirety of their schedule needs to be robust.
“Now, we know from the figures that I quoted that the level of play in this league is uniquely robust, not simply in our opinion, but what has been reflected over time.”
Mike Griffith covers Georgia football for DawgNation. He can be followed on Twitter at @MikeGriffith32