Wanting ‘faculty soccer to be robust nationally,’ SEC commissioner Greg Sankey optimistic about expanded playoff

Regardless of his league profitable 12 of the final 16 nationwide championships, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey mentioned one of the necessary parts of an expanded 12-team Faculty Soccer Playoff could be serving to the game to not be so regionalized.

“My view is how do you carry extra folks into November, together with in our league,” Sankey instructed ESPN. “Our league could be nice, even at 16 groups with a four-team playoff. At 14, we have taken half the sphere a few occasions. No one else has executed that. Once we go to 16 and add Texas and Oklahoma, we’re not going to have much less alternative by including these two.

“However we have excluded the West Coast and every thing west of the Rockies for all however two years. We would like faculty soccer to be robust nationally, and I feel that is the accountability all of us have.”

Sankey was a member of the Faculty Soccer Playoff working group, and after one other wave of realignment in August that included USC and UCLA shifting from the Pac-12 to the Large Ten, there’s a renewed push to expedite the proposed 12-team playoff to the 2024 season. At the moment, the four-team format stays in place by means of the tip of the 12-year tv contract that runs by means of the 2025 season.

Because the introduction of the Faculty Soccer Playoff in 2014, Oregon (2014) and Washington (2017) are the one two Pac-12 groups to make the playoff. Against this, not less than one SEC group has appeared in all eight playoffs. Alabama and Georgia have confronted off within the championship sport two occasions — in 2017, with Alabama profitable 26-23 in additional time, and final season, with Georgia profitable 33-18.

“I am nice if we win the championship yearly, however we’ve a accountability to consider the sport from a much bigger image,” Sankey mentioned. “I need to win and am not going to apologize for that, however I am additionally going to problem myself and us collectively to consider the massive image.”

Sankey acknowledged that increasing the sphere would not essentially imply that extra groups will win championships. Throughout the CFP period, Alabama has gained three titles, Clemson two titles, Georgia one title, LSU one title and Ohio State one title.

“However the great thing about going to 12 is you may have as many as 40 groups with an opportunity to get into the playoff getting into November,” Sankey mentioned.

Sankey mentioned the principle obstacles in shifting up enlargement to 2024 stay lining up bowl dates, campus involvement, interplay of TV networks, not bumping up in opposition to the NFL and never extending the playoff too far into January. He stays pissed off that the present 12-team proposal is identical one which was first revealed in June 2021 however opposed by the ACC, Large Ten and Pac-12.

“The unlucky piece to me is that relatively than stroll by means of these points for the previous yr, folks simply mentioned, ‘No,’ so now we’re attempting to maneuver it alongside,” Sankey mentioned.

“Rapidly, issues modified magically. I nonetheless suppose it is doable, however folks have to return to the desk.”

Requested if he had been extra assured than he was a yr in the past that playoff enlargement may very well be expedited, Sankey joked, “After the final yr, I do not use the phrase ‘assured’ lots.”

Sankey careworn that the SEC has been on board with enlargement the entire time.

“Return to 2019 in Santa Clara [site of the national title game to cap the 2018 season], the presidents mentioned they had been going to manage the choice, however you had clamoring from each nook however ours about enlargement, both on the commissioner or presidential stage on the board, each nook of the soccer universe however ours,” Sankey mentioned. “So we labored by means of a course of, understanding folks wished enlargement, and then you definitely’re instructed to current a mannequin as a working group. We did precisely what was requested and tried to not get into, ‘We will not do that. We will not do this.'”

And, now — after an overhauling of the school soccer panorama with enlargement within the Large Ten, Large 12 and SEC — the game is correct again to that very same mannequin, which incorporates the six highest-ranked convention champions and 6 at-large groups.

“I suppose motivation modified over the summer time,” Sankey mentioned.

Sankey mentioned the SEC could be nice with what he referred to as “no conference-directed entry” to the playoff, but in addition understands the worth of convention championships and was prepared to compromise.

“Should you’re the sixth greatest convention or seventh greatest convention and it is shut and you have three or 4 groups vying for a championship in every, that is swiftly 20 groups which have a possibility, which is nice for the game ,” Sankey mentioned.

Sankey mentioned former Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey was the primary particular person to say to him that 12 groups was the precise quantity once they spoke at a Gator Bowl Corridor of Fame perform in January 2020.

“We had not even met but as a subgroup, and Doug calls me over and says, ‘Hey, it must be 12 groups,'” Sankey recounted. “I used to be shocked as a result of I hadn’t instructed folks I assumed 12 groups was the quantity, the precise construction. Not everyone goes to agree, however Doug type of reaffirmed what I used to be considering, that we wanted to suppose past a few of what was on the market, which was six or eight groups at that time.”

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