Greg Sankey puffs chest touting SEC’s power as ‘tremendous league’ dynamic reshapes faculty soccer

ATLANTA — Greg Sankey spent a big a part of his 2022 SEC Media Days state of the union handle flexing. You most likely did not discover. It wasn’t apparent to the bare eye as a result of the SEC commissioner could be as refined as an identical silk scarf, as imprecise as the foundations of frisbee golf.

“There are possible others who would touch upon that,” Sankey advised CBS Sports activities when requested whether or not his convention and the Huge Ten have separated themselves from the remainder of faculty soccer.

That is actually what the sport should think about most lately. It isn’t a proper separation of the SEC and Huge Ten from everybody else, but it surely may as effectively be. The emergence of a Energy Two from what was the Energy 5 is going on earlier than our eyes. It commenced in earnest a 12 months in the past this week when phrase leaked on the 2021 version of those media days that Texas and Oklahoma had been becoming a member of the league.

A month earlier than that revelation, Sankey had already advised his league presidents it could be “essentially the most consecutive 12 months within the historical past of school sports activities.” Contemplate what has occurred since: Alston v. NCAA choice; title, picture and likeness rights; and the NCAA deciding to rewrite its structure whereas ceding tasks to the membership energy brokers like Sankey.

That was earlier than the Huge Ten ripped up the sod itself by inviting USC and UCLA into the fold. Every thing modified that week and continues to shift to today.

“We’re an excellent league. … This can be a tremendous league,” Sankey admitted Monday when requested straight if he would outline the convention by that time period.

He later added: “The Southeastern Convention is stronger now than at some other time in our historical past.”

No shock there. It is now only a query of how the SEC handles its added tasks. By 2025, when Texas and Oklahoma be a part of, the SEC we are going to function the best assortment of soccer manufacturers ever assembled this facet of the NFL. Following intently behind — or maybe alongside the SEC — would be the Huge Ten.

The 32 groups comprising these conferences might be darn near having the ability to stage their very own playoff. They’ll have cornered a lot of the income and eyeballs that matter.

Nobody will ever accuse Sankey of being buddies with Huge Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, however it would largely be as much as them the place faculty athletics heads.

“The fact is there might be two conferences on the FBS stage with 16 groups which have competed constantly on the highest stage,” Sankey mentioned. “That is a brand new dynamic.”

The dynamic is revealing itself in levels. The job of convention commissioners is to generate profits for his or her leagues. That comes first in any dialogue of upper studying associated to athletics. What we’re witnessing is that on steroids as TV rightsholders have principally determined to go all-in on these greatest manufacturers.

The Huge Ten reportedly needed USC and Notre Dame earlier than it settled for USC and UCLA. That was undoubtedly in response to Texas and Oklahoma. Sankey principally mentioned Monday what CBS Sports activities reported final week: The SEC prefers to face pat at 16, however …

“… we’ll watch what occurs round us and be considerate however be nimble,” Sankey mentioned.

That is the silk scarf within the commissioner. His message: Do not attempt us. For the second, Sankey has tacitly eliminated the SEC’s assist of a 12-team playoff that features six spots reserved for the top-ranked convention champions.

“I might be high-quality with no [automatic qualifiers],” he mentioned.

That is code for opening the sphere to as many SEC groups as potential. If Notre Dame goes to the Huge Ten, it might not matter to the SEC. Sankey’s convention will not mess with potential ACC desirables Clemson, Florida State and Miami — till and except these faculties discover a strategy to extricate themselves from a stifling grant of rights. Possibly not even then.

Sankey will not say that out loud, but it surely’s apparent: With realignment nonetheless roiling, it’s within the Energy Two’s greatest curiosity that there be one much less FBS convention. Much less competitors for playoff spots and playoff income for starters.

“I do not see these as absolutes,” Sankey advised CBS Sports activities.

However they may be inevitabilities. Final 12 months, it was the Huge 12 that just about went away. This 12 months, it may be the Pac-12. There are tasks — added tasks going ahead. Sankey mentioned he observed on the convention’s spring conferences when somebody had tweeted out the coaches’ seating chart at their Destin, Florida, resort.

“It’s by no means going to be the identical, but it surely would not need to be the way in which that it’s,” he mentioned Monday. “We’re coping with complicated issues that will not be solved by complaints, by accusations, by finger pointing or by providing easy options.”

It is potential the problems are too huge to be solved. Sankey was reminded that lots of his administrative friends are resigned to a future that features a skilled mannequin full with income sharing and collective bargaining. These are issues Sankey, a strict traditionalist arising as Mike Slive’s No. 2, might need fought. Now, he’s resigned to a few of it.

“I believe we now have to be attentive to it … as a substitute of opining,” Sankey mentioned.

It is all transferring so quick, perhaps too quick. Missouri within the SEC and Nebraska within the Huge Ten have utterly misplaced the inspiration of cultures developed within the Huge Eight/Huge 12. Yeah, however the cash spends, and that is why they left, proper?

Keep in mind that dynamic.

Lane Kiffin might have supplied the wisest view Monday. There’s an precise soccer angle to all this. The tremendous league is able to squash all people on the sphere, too.

“You will have had it higher than you thought,” Ole Miss’ coach mentioned of the Texas-Oklahoma migration. “I’ve all the time mentioned the SEC will not be for everyone. I by no means considered groups. For coaches, I’ve seen it simply tear individuals up. When you’re not wired a sure approach, you do not work within the SEC , and it simply spits you out.”

Contemplate the Longhorns and Sooners will not enter the SEC till 2025, but they’re already plotting towards the present Huge 12 powers within the Power All over the place Convention.

However why cease there? There are worlds to beat. Monday’s message endures: That is the strongest the league has ever been.

“This does not appear proper, Texas and Oklahoma going to the SEC,” Kiffin added, “however USC and UCLA going to the Huge Ten appears improper.”

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