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#pounditSaturday, April 13, 2024

SEC commissioner says conference could make 1 big change

Greg Sankey at a press conference

July 15, 2019; Birmingham, AL, USA; SEC commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to the media during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency-Birmingham. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC is set to undergo some serious changes in the coming years, and one of the most significant could be a shift from two divisions to one.

With Texas and Oklahoma set to join the SEC in 2025, there have been questions about how teams will be sorted. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said on Thursday that the plan is to eliminate the current two-division format when the conference expands to 16 teams.

“We right now are not thinking about maintaining a two-division format for football scheduling in the SEC,” Sankey said, via Emily Adams of the Greenville News. “It would potentially be one single division with the idea that we want to rotate our teams through our campuses more frequently. We have big brands with big interest and large following … that want to go to places like Fayetteville, Arkansas or have their fans come to Columbia, South Carolina.”

The SEC currently consists of two seven-team divisions — East and West. One idea that has been floated is using four pods of four teams when Texas and Oklahoma join, but Sankey said that would have the same drawbacks as the current two-division structure. The goal of eliminating divisions is to create more flexibility.

As it currently stands, SEC teams play eight total games within the conference — six against the other six teams in their division, one fixed cross-division rival, and one other cross-division game. Sankey has said teams could play nine in-conference games once Texas and Oklahoma join. Eliminating divisions would make it so schools do not go such long periods without facing one another.

The SEC played a conference-only, 10-game schedule in 2020 due to the pandemic. Sankey said ratings were higher than ever then, which is one of the main reasons the SEC is looking into making changes. Coaches have had some issues with the scheduling in the past, so it will be interesting to see what they think of the changes that are forthcoming.

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