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VOL. 133 | NO. 140 | Monday, July 16, 2018

SEC Commissioner Sankey: 6-1-1 Football Scheduling Format has Worked Well

Expansion of legalized sports betting will require scrutiny, Sankey says at Media Days

By Don Wade

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ATLANTA – Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey addressed the expansion of legalized sports betting and the league’s football scheduling format in his opening address Monday, July 16, at the annual SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame and Omni Hotel.

GREG SANKEY (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Sankey said the league’s 6-1-1 scheduling format, in which teams play six SEC games within their own division, one permanent crossover game, and one rotating game against a team from the other division, has proved effective. To back up that claim, Sankey cited several league achievements:

Placing at least one team in the national title game in 11 of the last 12 years; twice having both teams in the national championship game, including after the 2017 season when Alabama defeated Georgia; four straight years (2013-2016) of being the only conference to place 10 teams in bowl games; and almost two decades of leading the nation in attendance.

Asked about the fact that the current setup means teams from opposing divisions only play in each other’s home stadium once every 12 years, Sankey said: “We’re not finished having (the scheduling) conversation. On the other side, we’ve led in attendance the last 19 years.”

Sankey went to say that the College Football Playoff Committee has emphasized evaluating the entirety of a team’s schedule, not just its league schedule. Further, Sankey said if the league changed the format it would not come without cost

“The division structure supports a number of important rivalries,” he said.

On the subject of expanded legalized sports betting, which will be coming to Mississippi casinos sooner rather than later, Sankey said the league has been actively looking at potential impacts since at least 2011 and this has included contact with the NFL, NBA, MLB and PGA Tour about how they will approach the change.

One benefit, Sankey said, is that more legalization means, “There’s a lot more sunshine on what happens.”

Once decision that SEC leaders are yet to make, he said, is whether to subscribe to a gambling service to perhaps better analyze the betting action that takes place around the lines of conference football games.

“The integrity of our games is of utmost importance,” he said.

This year’s venue change marked the first time since SEC Media Days began in 1985 that the event wasn’t held in the Birmingham area, but Sankey said SEC Media Days will return to Hoover, Alabama, in 2019. After that, he said the league would be looking at the “portability” of SEC Media Days from year to year.

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