Alabama Football: SEC will talk about having its own Playoff

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Alabama football fans don’t always agree with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. There was recent displeasure when Sankey reprimanded Nick Saban for the Texas A&M comments. From a competing perspective, some Crimson Tide fans contend Sankey is afraid of Nick Saban. Mutual respect is probably the correct way to define the working relationship between the two men.

Nick Saban is the GOAT. Less obvious is Greg Sankey being the most powerful person on the administrative side of college sports.

Attention on Alabama Football and Texas A&M conflict

Next week, SEC ADs and football coaches will have their annual spring meetings. It is a trip to the beach, but serious work will be done. The college football world will obsessively follow the Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher brouhaha and whatever encounters they have in Destin.

More serious issues will fill the May 31 – June 3 schedule.

There will be discussions about schedules and structure once Texas and Oklahoma make the league 16 teams. Currently, that is not until the 2025 season.  As Bama Hammer recently discussed entry by the two Big 12 programs could happen in the 2023 season.

In Destin, new divisions, pods and no divisions will all be discussed. The number of regular-season games will be a major item, along with permanent and rotating opponents. There is a broad expectation the SEC will move to a 9-game regular season.

Conversations in Destin will not lead to immediate decisions. The school presidents have to be part of the process at a later date. It is also probably too early for consensus by the coaches and ADs. But there will be items of serious import discussed about the SEC’s football future. More than anything else, they will revolve around money.

Money is too small a word. Instead, think BIG money from what is expected to come from media deals. Recently, an independent source projected in 2026 the SEC payouts to 16 schools will be more than $96M. The Big Ten, as the only other conference with massive media deal clout, is projected to pay out about $10M less.

In Destin, there will be conversations that could make the SEC payouts increase well above $96M annually. According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, the SEC will discuss staging its own post-season Playoff.

The SEC making such a move has been rumored for months. Why now? One reason is bargaining power. Another reason is what happened when the 12-team CFB Playoff format fell apart. Thamel quoted a veteran college football insider,

"Whatever collegiality existed among those five commissioners appears to be gone. Sankey’s in such a catbird seat right now."

So far, Sankey’s words shared from the catbird seat are guarded.

"We need to engage in blue-sky thinking, which is you detach from reality. What are the full range of possibilities?… unknowns are on our mind as we think about decision making down the road. This is a fully dynamic environment. … It’s hard to understand where things will end up if you wait for this to play out."

How it could play out is the SEC having an eight-team playoff after its regular season. Afterward, the SEC Playoff winner could play another team for the National Championship. How that other team would be determined is another unknown. It might be the Big Ten champion, as CFB becomes dominated by a ‘Power Two.’

Next. True freshmen SEC difference-makers. dark

Alabama football fans would be among the first to embrace an SEC Playoff. There might be some concern about too many games, but an SEC Playoff and a National Championship game would only require a maximum of 16 games.