Greg Sankey reacts to ACC schedule adjustment, confirms SEC's plans
The ACC got the attention of the college football community Tuesday when the conference announced an adjustment to its schedule. The conference removed Notre Dame and Clemson, it’s two most likely College Football Playoff teams, from the Dec. 12 slate, giving the Irish and Tigers a bye week before appearing in the ACC Championship Game.
The ACC’s move surprised SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
“I was surprised to see the announcement [Tuesday],” Sankey told Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. “It begs one question: If their two most highly ranked teams were, for instance, [ranked] five and six in the CFP Rankings, would this decision have been made?”
Many media members pointed out that Alabama and Florida should ask Greg Sankey for the same treatment: a Dec. 12 bye before the Dec. 19 championship game. Sankey, however, has no interest in trimming the conference schedule to offer the division leaders a bye before the showdown in Atlanta.
“We committed to playing a 10-game schedule, which is certainly unique to see some other decisions this week where they indicated one direction and they changed at the last minute, Sankey told Dodd.
Sankey added, “We’re still moving forward with the opportunity for all 14 of our teams to play 10 games.”
The SEC commissioner noted that in past seasons, division winners clinched weeks ahead of going to Atlanta.
“I watched as they moved their championship from the 12th to the 19th to make that date available,” Sankey said of the ACC to Dodd. “I’m certain they’ll speak to that decision making. We’ve had teams that clinched division championships in the past with three weeks remaining in the season, and they still continue to play games.
“That’s an important part of the competitive spirit.”
The circumstances of the 2020 season saw the uniform 12-game regular season scrapped. Due to varying start dates and scheduling options, College Football Playoff contenders are playing different numbers of games, making this year more challenging for the selection committee. Sankey believes the more games, the better for a team’s CFP chances.
“We could have played an eight-game conference schedule,” Sankey said, “but we understood looking at the season we would assist ourselves in this postseason evaluation by adding quality games. SEC games are quality games. We’re still on that path.
“We felt that others were on that path, too. We understood back in August and September people made decisions to not play, yet made decisions based on clear understandings of the expectations. One of those expectations is about the number of games played.”
Dodd’s full article with more quotes from Sankey can be viewed here.