SEC Commissioner On OutKick The Show: Season Was A Success Despite Doubts

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SEC commissioner Greg Sankey joined Clay Travis on OutKick The Show on Wednesday and stressed that college football season was a success, despite the initial doubts and often negative press.

“We had planned to get to the finish line,” Sankey told Travis. “Going back to last March, you realized how much was out of your control. To get to the end, to have a conference championship and (most of) the bowl games we had scheduled, and have a team in the national championship game, I would define that as a successful season.”

Once the SEC made the decision to play, there was no looking back.

“When we made the decision, in late July or early August, there was a lot of pressure to not play and a lot of commentary that we shouldn’t play,” Sankey said. “And what I said on Aug. 10, the Monday when everybody was stopping, was we were going to continue forward, listen to the medical professionals, and keep plans in place. If you think about success, I think we made the right decision, based on the information available at that time.

“We delayed our season and lengthened the time to begin, and I think one of the really remarkable things was our first three weeks, where we had no disruptions. That didn’t happen, I think, in any other sport.”

Along with football, the SEC was able to successfully get through other fall sports, from soccer to cross country to volleyball.

How close did the conference actually come to cancelling the season?

“There were moments,” Sankey said. “One of the more memorable moments for me was when I called one of our university presidents. It was sort of a tough time, in late July, where you just didn’t have great clarity. I said, ‘Look, if we play, I can’t even begin to answer. In fact, I don’t even know how to ask the question about (the possibility) of not playing football in the Southeastern Conference.’ It was an admission of honesty that we were in a completely uncertain circumstance.

“One of the lessons I learned, looking back, was from a podcast by a guy named Andy Stanley, that said in times of uncertainty, to the extent you can provide clarity, that needs to be the focus. So I actually went from that and asked, ‘Where can we provide some level of clarity?'”

Yes, the response from the national media was largely one of doubt and negativity. But did that surprise Sankey?

“No, because there was a bit of a negative side, and it’s easy to say don’t (play),” he told Travis. “I think we did the harder thing — which was to try and to admit there are no guarantees. To have honest and candid conversations with student-athletes, some of which ended up on a taped conversation with the Washington Post. Those weren’t easy.

“But if we were looking for the easy way out, we could’ve just stopped. So I would suggest it was easier to just point the finger and say, ‘Don’t.’ You had to block that out. I think you have to be attentive to criticism. You have to use it inform your thinking a bit. But that was not going to be my deciding factor.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side,


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  1. I’m glad the SEC stayed the course. It would have been quite easy for them to fold under the media pressure.

    An SEC team beating the snot out of a Big Ten team was a fitting end to a season that started with the Big Ten running away tail between legs.

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