ATLANTA — SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey made a case for two SEC teams to get into the College Football Playoff, regardless of how the Alabama-Georgia SEC Championship Game result.
Sankey, in his fourth year as SEC commissioner, cited a “unique rigor” to the league’s eight-game schedule, and he made mention of the SEC having four teams ranked in the top 10 and eight in the Top 25.
“ If Alabama wins, obviously, they’ve been in a position so long that they’re going to remain in that position, one would assume,” Sankey said at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Friday.
“I actually still think there’s an argument that Georgia is still one of the four best teams, even with two losses, when I go back to that unique rigor of our schedule,” Sankey said. “And I know that the committee has indicated deep respect for the competition in this conference. They still merit consideration.
“We have seen on multiple occasions, actually, teams that are not conference champions selected. Last year it was Alabama. This year it could be a runner-up perhaps on either side of tomorrow’s game.”
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit has voiced a similar take on the Bulldogs getting in with two losses if they were to play the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide close, as has SEC Network star Paul Finebaum.
Oklahoma (11-1) currently sits at No. 5 in the CFB rankings with a Big 12 Championship Game against No. 14 Texas (9-3) on deck.
Ohio State (11-1) is No. 6 and plays No. 21 Northwestern (8-4) in the Big Ten Championship Game.
While the Bulldogs’ only loss this season came at No. 10 LSU, the Sooners lost to Texas earlier this season 48-45, and the Buckeyes were defeated by unranked Purdue, 49-20.
Sankey made it clear if Georgia wins he would most certainly expect two SEC teams in the College Football Playoff field.
“If the outcome is different, I certainly think the committee will be challenged in their evaluation,” Sankey said. “The SEC Champion will clearly be one of the four teams, and I think if there are two …. 12-1 teams in this league, then it is clear that you can justify both being two of the top four teams.
“I think, without listing their resume, their play and evaluation of the football prowess of their teams is an indication that they rank at that level.”
Sankey challenged the notion that the trend for the College Football Playoff Committee to marginalize the importance of league championship games could lead to an eight-team playoff.
“P eople talk about let’s do this and let’s do that as far as a bracket size, you have to remember a few things,” Sankey said. “One, this is Year 5, and I think the first four years have worked remarkably well. I’ve been more a fan of the even numbered years if you check the outcomes in those seasons.
“I’ve lived through bracket expansion in another football playoff, and I’m not sure it’s achieved that type of objective. I think four is healthy. I think the debate is healthy. And I think the debate is an important part for all of us who are thoughtful looking at our future, without any prediction of outcomes.”
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