ATLANTA — Scheduling always seems to be a hot topic of discussion when talking season wraps up ahead of the return of college football, but Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey poured cold water on rumors of potential changes to how the league schedules.
Sankey downplayed the chances of any serious changes to the SEC’s 6-1-1 scheduling model during his opening address at SEC Media Days in Atlanta on Monday morning.
The SEC adopted the 6-1-1 model following the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri. Under the current system, each teams plays all six of its divisional foes, one permanently designated cross-division rival and an additional game against a rotating foe from the other division.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva is one of a few administrators and coaches around the league who have been critical of the model in the past as being imbalanced — LSU and Florida have played home and home every season since 1971.
“The 6-1-1 model was the clear preference of the SEC’s member institutions,” Sankey said referring to a comprehensive review conducted by the league in 2014.
Sankey went on to list the numerous national championships and College Football Playoff appearances that SEC institutions have achieved under the current format.
That’s not to say the league isn’t looking to improve its policies whenever possible. As Sankey pointed out, the SEC in 2016 legislated that each league member would have to play an additional ninth game against an autonomy five conference school.
However, when asked about altering those annual cross-divisional matchups or adding a ninth conference game, Sankey didn’t seem to think change was coming any time soon.
“The College Football Playoff committee said they look at the entire schedule and it needs to be robust,” Sankey said. “The play in this league is uniquely robust.”
Change may be coming to other aspects of SEC football, though. Sankey lauded a handful of minor pace-of-play tweaks that cut an average of six minutes from SEC games last season, adding that the plan was to further look into speeding up college football games.
Sankey was also pleased with the implementation of centralized instant replay last season and said he expected the league will go further in that direction in 2018 and beyond.
The commissioner didn’t seem quite so eager to make changes relating to the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize sports gambling earlier this summer. Sankey spoke of an NFL-style injury availability chart as being likely some time down the road, but insisted the SEC wouldn’t rush into anything for the sake of having it ready for this season.
“If this is to happen, we have one shot to get it right,” Sankey said.