SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on Alabama’s success, division realignment, 9 league games

Greg Sankey

TAMPA – SEC commissioner Greg Sankey met with media Sunday and touched on a number of topics.

* Alabama will win its fifth national championship in eight years if it can beat Clemson on Monday night. Sankey was asked if the domination of one team is good for college football.

“I hope for great competition,” he said. “To have a team with the great amount of success as Alabama (has had) means that we’ve had 13 (other SEC) football staffs analyzing how they can access our conference championship. I think there is a forgetfulness throughout the season. Ole Miss was up 24 on Alabama. Texas A&M had a lead in the fourth quarter. It’s not as if the University of Alabama football program has just run away and hidden.

“You might look at the run UCLA had in basketball and the way it elevated college basketball. So the idea that somebody winning the number of championships as Alabama has won is not a good thing is something I do not accept.”

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* Alabama coach Nick Saban was the trendsetter in terms of hiring extra staff members to serve as “analysts.” Steve Sarkisian was an analyst on Saban’s staff when he was named Alabama’s offensive coordinator this week. As you might imagine, schools with fewer resources have pushed back and asked for limits on administrative personnel in football. I asked Sankey if it were even possible to get a handle on staff sizes because so many have gotten so big.

“That’s a great question, but you don’t answer questions by not having conversations,” he said. “But to simply ignore the issue doesn’t lead us to the ability to answer if we could or should be establishing more defined structure for personnel.”

In short, the discussions are ongoing.

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* Sankey was asked about the new trend of football programs using former players in practice.

“It’s interesting to have that erupt in football this year because it’s been happening in other sports for a long time,” he said. “It’s happened in baseball. Olympians have practiced with our track-and-field teams. It’s happened a lot in basketball. I don’t think it’s a healthy distraction because it’s been a non-event for a long period of time in a number of sports.”

* Sankey was asked how often the subject of realigning the divisions comes up.

“It comes up every time there are more than six media members gathered in a room. That’s about it,” he said. “We’ve had 25 years of great football competition. We believe we’ve set up the quality example of how divisions can work.”

* I asked Sankey about the possibility of going to a nine-game conference schedule in the future. Three of the Power Five conferences (Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12) now play nine conference games each year and have been vocal about wanting the ACC and SEC to join them.

“We went through this conversation in a thorough way about 2½ years ago,” Sankey said. “You never say never, but it is not something that is on the front burner.”

(You can follow Tony Barnhart on Twitter @MrCFB)

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