SEC Commissioner acting as de facto czar of college football and that’s a good thing

FILE – Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference speaks during a news conference on March 12, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Over the past two years Sankey has helped the conference land a new additional $350 million television rights deal with ESPN and guided it through the uncertainty of the pandemic.

AP photo: Mark Humphrey, file

Ah, Memorial Day weekend is in our sights. It is unofficial beginning of summer, and the time of the year when the SEC brass head to Destin, Fla. for its annual meetings.

This year’s affair should be a doozy, particularly with the the shots fired between Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and his Texas A&M counterpart Jimbo Fisher. There is some heat brewing here.

Nick accused Jimbo of buying all his recruits like a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive, and Jimbo fired back at Nick, whom he once coached under at LSU, basically saying Saban is as dirty as the underside of a snake.

WWE chairman Vince McMahon could take notes on the type mud Nick and Jimbo are slinging. They basically sounded like they were cutting a promo for this year’s Crimson Tide-Aggie showdown at Tuscaloosa on Oct. 8. It might be the biggest game on the SEC’s docket this year?

Anyone for an underwater cage match between the two vitriol-spewing coaches next week in Destin?

I don’t think anyone was all that surprised by these revelations. Such shenanigans were par for the course in the SEC long before anyone ever heard of “Name, Image and Likeness,” but this feud certainly makes next week’s meetings a bit more interesting.

And things are already very interesting as the SEC plans for Texas and Oklahoma to join the league in 2025 when college football will also be working under a new TV contract with ABC/ESPN. Yes, CBS will be losing its SEC Game of the Week, which has been appointment viewing each Saturday across the South and really the entire landscape of college football for more than a decade.

Under discussion will be just how the league will be divided for play once the Sooners and Longhorns join the fold. Will divisional play continue or will four-team pods be the new fashion? The Pac-12 has already dissolved divisions and supposedly the ACC will do the same in the near future.

Will the league add a ninth SEC game to the league schedule? It would make sense. It would be one less slot for each program to fill will a directional school, and likely a better contest for TV consumption. It’s also another way to make sure all conference teams play each other more often, which is a growing concern.

Word also spread Monday that SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey wants to consider the possibility of the league creating its own playoff system. Yeah, wild.

Evidently he’s irked that other conferences balked at negations for a 12-team championship tournament last year. If other conferences are hesitant to cash in on what would be a bonanza for the college game, he’s ready to get the ball rolling without them.

The idea sounds a bit like a trial balloon released by Sankey to get the other leagues off the pot of indecision, but then again, maybe not.

As a fan of the bowl games, I’m not particularly fond of playoff expansion, but no one’s asking me. Might as well go with the flow rather than get ground up in the gears.

Sankey’s leadership and boldness is a great thing for the SEC and college football fans in general. When the Pac-12 and Big 10 decided to call off their football seasons off in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer 2020, it was Sankey who held the line and saved that season.

Where he’s willing to lead is certainly worth at least strongly considering. It’s good that Sankey wields a big stick in the world of college athletics, and that he generally uses it wisely.

Many of the talking heads around ESPN have said Saban should be named the Czar of College Football once he retires at Alabama.

What has escaped them is that Sankey is already acting as the de facto czar of college football right now.