SEC Doesn’t Need ‘4 Time Zones,’ Because It’s ‘Already Across Globe,’ Not Adding Members

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The Southeastern Conference is sweet on 16.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Tuesday that his conference is standing pat with just its two latest additions – Texas and Oklahoma from 2021 announcements. The two programs will join the SEC before the 2024 football season for a 16 total.

Florida State, which was a target of SEC expansion before 1992, is out there and apparently anxious to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference. But Sankey is not recruiting new members.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said there “is no comparison in what we’ve established.” (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

“I would submit we’re in an enormously healthy place, so we’re not in the middle of the current movement efforts,” Sankey said on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show late Tuesday afternoon.

As of Friday, the Pacific-12 Conference sunk to four members for 2024 from nine as Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah all announced exits after the 2023 season. Washington and Oregon are Big Ten bound, while Arizona, Arizona State and Utah will be off to the Big 12. Last month, Colorado announced it would leave the Pac-12 after the 2023 season for the Big 12. In the summer of 2022, USC and UCLA announced their departures for the Big Ten after the 2023 season.

Greg Sankey: SEC Is ‘Envy Of Everyone In College Football’

“We’re going to be constantly attentive,” Sankey said. “Our focus is on our growth to 16. When you look at the 16 universities that will soon all be affiliated officially with the SEC, when we add Oklahoma and Texas, I think that’s the envy of everyone in college football from a strength, from a success, from a support standpoint.”

But Big Ten television markets are significantly larger and will get even bigger in 2024 with Los Angeles area markets entering the mix. Many SEC programs are in very small towns. And the Big Ten has long annually doled out more money per school than the SEC. In 2021-22, for example, Big Ten members’ shares were $58.8 million to $49.9 million for SEC programs. In 2020-21, Big Ten schools netted $54.3 million to $45.5 million for SEC members.

The Big Ten will have 18 programs to divide the money among after the 2024-25 sports season to 16 in the SEC, but newbies Washington and Oregon are expected to get just half a share to start.

Nevertheless, Sankey is not looking around at the moment.

SEC Not Recruiting New Members At The Moment

“I’m not a recruiter,” he said. “Perhaps there’ll be some opportunity, but it needs to be one of philosophical alignment. And it’s not something where we’re actively out recruiting institutions right now.”

Sankey said he had a video conference with the league’s presidents and chancellors last Friday to discuss the Pac-12 destruction.

“Really strong alignment with that group,” he said. “Very clear that there’s not something out there that we should be reaching for or engaging in our our own level of recruitment. The focus is on the Southeastern Conference – how we build upon our strength, how we prepare for the year that’s ahead and then look to our future when we grow to 16.”

Sankey downplayed any drastic changes to the new College Football Playoff format that starts in 2024 with 12 teams instead of four.

New Playoff Format In 2024 May Be Adjusted

“It (the 12-team playoff format) is on everyone’s mind, pending the outcome of some of these additional membership movements,” he said. “It remains to be seen. But how many FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) conferences will exist in 30 or 60 days? We’ve talked about the logistical issues and decisions related to the first round of games on campus. We do have changed circumstances. Some level of adjustment may have to be made. Twelve teams can continue to work. It’s really about what happens inside that format.”

Sankey did not sound like an advocate of the Big Ten’s coast-to-coast footprint that will happen in 2024 with USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington on the West Coast and Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers on the East Coast. Asked if there is anything that would prompt him to change his tighter geographic philosophy on what a conference should be, he said not at this time.

Sankey: No Comparison To The SEC

“Well, not that we’ve seen, based on current circumstances,” he said. “When I look at evaluations of added fans, we lead. And really there is no comparison in what we’ve established. We want to maximize our revenue, but we have this continuous group that has a national platform. We don’t need to be in four time zones to generate interest on the West Coast. We’re really across the globe. That’s been a hallmark. But who knows what will happen?”

Greg Sankey expressed sorrow for the Pac-12 being down to four teams now as it attempts to possibly join forces with the Mountain West or ACC.

“It just wasn’t one of those great feelings to work in college sports in my experience,” he said of last week’s events. “I take responsibility where we’ve made moves, but there was something different last week about really the questions around the existence of the Pac-12 conference, given its long and storied history.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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