Sankey standing firm on SEC schedule

<p>Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during SEC football Media Days Monday, July 16, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)</p>John Bazemore

{{tncms-inline alignment="left" content="&amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p1&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span class=&amp;quot;s1&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;strong&amp;gt;LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, for one, has been critical of the 6-1-1 formula, calling it unbalanced in that his school plays traditionally strong Florida every season.&amp;lt;/strong&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;" id="de0c3ea0-e8b1-4666-a4ab-a247dfc9305b" style-type="quote" title="Pull Quote" type="relcontent"}}

<p class="p1">If an SEC team plays a ninth game against a conference opponent anytime soon, it’s not likely to be in the regular season.

<p class="p1">Of course, twice this decade two SEC teams have played each other for college football’s national championship, which leads commissioner Greg Sankey to think there’s nothing broken to fix about the league’s scheduling policies.

<p class="p1">Many — most notably Alabama coach Nick Saban — have called on the SEC to build a ninth conference game into its schedules.

<p class="p1">Sankey isn’t ready to go there yet.

<p class="p1">But, in response to the looming increases in legalized gambling, if there ever is a ninth conference game, there’s a decent chance that by then coaches will be required to be more up front about injuries heading into those games.

<p class="p1">Those were two of the major issues Sankey addressed Monday in annual state-of-the-SEC address to open the conference’s Media Days in Atlanta.

<p class="p1">Currently, the league uses a 6-1-1 formula for conference scheduling — each school plays all six divisional opponents and one permanent cross-divisional rival while rotating the other six schools from its opposite division in and out.

<p class="p1">“What we do works at both the national championship level and at a level that provides our team’s meaningful access to post-season Bowl opportunities,” Sankey said. “A team from the SEC has played in 11 of the last 12 national championship games. Five different SEC teams have accessed the national championship game. Four different SEC teams have participated in winning nine of the past 12 national titles.

<p class="p1">“Our success as a league should not be attributed simply to our scheduling philosophy, but year after year, our best teams have produced the best team in the country. The facts candidly speak for themselves.”

<p class="p1">LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, for one, has been critical of the 6-1-1- formula, calling it unbalanced in that his school plays traditionally strong Florida every season.

<p class="p1">“We analyze the work of the College Football Playoff Selection committee,” Sankey said. “ The results  are shared with presidents and chancellors and discussed in that group. I do not presently anticipate any major change in our approach.”

<p class="p1">“The 6-1-1 model was the clear preference of the SEC’s member institutions.”

<p class="p1">Regardless of the formula, a lot of money figures to be wagered on this game.

<p class="p1">Sankey isn’t naive — betting on SEC football is nothing new.

<p class="p1">But he said the conference was taking a proactive approach now that a U. S. Supreme Court ruling opened the door for states to have legalized gambling on sporting events.

<p class="p1">“What is new is the expansion of legalized sports gambling and the increased cultural acceptance,” he said. “Part of the positive with legalized gambling is there’s a lot more sunshine on what is happening.”

<p class="p1">He said the SEC and the NCAA has discussed the issue with all the major pro sports leagues.

<p class="p1">SEC coaches have been notoriously coy or evasive when discussing injuries before a game, which often has a big effect on a game’s betting line.

<p class="p1">Sankey said nothing different is likely to be in place for this season. But he forsees that at that some point the SEC will adopt guidelines, though not as detailed as the NFL’s.

<p class="p1">It might, he said, include an “availability report” that would also take into account suspensions or other reasons for a player missing a game.

<p class="p1">The SEC is also considering subscribing to a service that analyzes the league’s games with an eye toward irregularities.

<p class="p1">“Those involved in legalized gambling are the best at knowing what’s happened,” he said. “(Are) there strange things that might happen around the line? We’ve not done that yet, but it’s certainly a topic of conversation.”

<p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, for one, has been critical of the 6-1-1 formula, calling it unbalanced in that his school plays traditionally strong Florida every season.</strong></span>

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