Greg Sankey has the power to save college football. It’s time to handle it
He can end this madness. Plant a flag and make a statement and use the power of its position for the good of all.
It’s time for SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey to take control of the sudden uncertainty in college football expansion with a definitive statement.
The SEC is sticking to 16 teams.
Forget everything you have heard, read or seen. Forget the raid on the ACC, or a flirtation with Notre Dame or a last dip in the state of Texas.
The SEC is sticking to 16 teams.
It doesn’t matter that Notre-Dame, the prettiest girl at the ball, is always alone. Never mind the moves of the Pac-12 and Big 12 in an effort to recover critical members lost over the past year.
It doesn’t matter if Clemson wants to get into the SEC, and so does North Carolina. It doesn’t matter which TV deals are made by which conferences, or who sells what at which streaming site.
More than anything, never mind the Big Ten expansion moves on the horizon.
For the sake of college football, the SEC is sticking to 16 teams. Because staying 16 puts the blame for a college football break in the Big Ten’s lap.
If there really is a paradigm shift on the horizon, it won’t be in the hands of the SEC.
Online sports betting has arrived or is arriving in many southern states. Residents of states where legalized sports betting exists can bet on things like the Heisman race, SEC football games every week and more…all from their mobile device.
“This conference, with a commissioner of this power and reputation, would resonate,” an industry source said. “Everyone keeps asking for a leader in college football. There is a leader, and it is the SEC. Everything follows their move.
So here’s what Sankey should do: use the bully’s pulpit.
Stand on the stage in Atlanta and open the SEC Media Days – an annual carnival of information and absurdity – with a Churchillian moment. Shut down all speculation and rumors and steer the big, bad SEC Battleship to its True North.
More expansion, more potential implosion of the second most popular sport in the United States – behind the NFL.
There is too much good for all to share now – not equally, but certainly without historical programs being left out – to rush into the great unknown of 2 Super Conferences and everyone else.
There’s too much fairness in college football for Sankey and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren (and their respective college presidents) to stare at each other like Reagan and Gorbachev while everyone shivers on the sidelines.
At SEC Spring Meetings in late May, Sankey spoke about the SEC chairmen’s desire to move forward with a college football playoff that would include all FBS schools. While he made it clear that an SEC Playoff wasn’t a threat (that’s the reality if other “Alliance” nonsense continues), the idea moving forward is that everyone or on the same boat.
Everyone wins (again, not equally) and everyone moves forward through the tough times of NIL, transfer portal and fee-for-service.
Sankey, whose measured and definitive leadership pushed the SEC to unthinkable success in just 7 years, is set to stand in Atlanta next week, with the eyes of the sports world upon him, and clarify this specific future: If the Power 5 becomes the Power 2, it won’t be because of the actions taken by the SEC.
The same SEC that a year earlier had accepted Texas and Oklahoma into the conference, while the other 4 Power conferences insinuated (in an uncertain order) that the SEC was suing Texas and Oklahoma, which ESPN had negotiated the deal and that the SEC was trying to ruin college football as we know it.
Meanwhile, back in reality and less than a year later, the most destabilizing move of all came from the Big Ten – which used an “Alliance” with the ACC and the Pac-12 to scuttle the expansion of the Playoffs (eliminating up to $1.2 billion per year for EVERYTHING to share) before turning the knife on the Pac-12 and adding USC and UCLA.
The unlikely move left the Pac-12 in danger of being eaten up by the Big Ten and Big 12, and the ACC in danger of losing teams to the SEC in retaliation.
Knowing all of this, and knowing that he and the SEC are standing on the cliff like the tip of a spear, Sankey should declare loud and clear that college football as we know it is not dead. The Playoff is not dead, and neither will NIL and the Transfer Portal.
Embrace the moment, embrace the power of the position he’s built and won — and the bullying pulpit he stands on — and declare that the SEC, the one true stabilizing force in all of college football, stands. behind the current structure of the game.
Behind the Power 5 and the Group of 5 and access for all to the Playoffs, and the ability of the ACC, the Pac-12 and the Big 12 to strike their own TV deals – or in unison – to win their greater value.
Behind the FBS system, the Playoffs and the impending NCAA reforms.
Behind FBS schools playing an annual game against FCS schools to help their bottom dollar, and the playoffs sending money to lower levels of NCAA football to do the same.
Plant a flag and make a statement, and force the Big Ten to follow.
Look what real change can be.