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SEC commissioner on expanded CFP: ‘We want college football to be strong nationally’


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SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is fine with continuing to dominate the college football landscape but also wants to see the game continue to grow. 

The expansion of the College Football Playoff to 12 teams beginning in 2026 will allow for more conferences to be represented at the end of the year, which Sankey believes is best for college football.  

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on the field for pregame warmups at the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl between the Houston Cougars and the Auburn Tigers Dec. 28, 2021, at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.  
(Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“My view is how do you bring more people into November, including in our league,” Sankey told ESPN. “Our league would be fine, even at 16 teams with a four-team playoff. At 14, we’ve taken half the field a couple of times. Nobody else has done that. When we go to 16 and add Texas and Oklahoma, we’re not going to have less opportunity by adding those two. We’re going to have more.

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“But we’ve excluded the West Coast and everything west of the Rockies for all but two years. We want college football to be strong nationally, and I think that’s the responsibility we all have.”

In early September, the College Football Board of Managers voted to expand to a 12-team playoff, beginning in 2026, when the current playoff contract ends. 

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Since the inception of the playoffs in 2014, the SEC has won five of the eight CFP national championships, and just 13 programs have made the playoff. 

The Pac-12 conference has had just two teams make the playoff and has missed out on the CFP in each of the past five seasons. 

Head coach Kirby Smart, right, of the Georgia Bulldogs, shakes hands with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey after the Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18 in the 2022 CFP National Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. 

Head coach Kirby Smart, right, of the Georgia Bulldogs, shakes hands with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey after the Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18 in the 2022 CFP National Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. 
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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“I’m fine if we win the championship every year, but we have a responsibility to think about the game from a bigger picture,” Sankey said. “I want to win and am not going to apologize for that, but I’m also going to challenge myself and us collectively to think about the big picture.”

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the Georgia Bulldogs' national championship celebration Jan. 15, 2022, at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the Georgia Bulldogs’ national championship celebration Jan. 15, 2022, at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
(Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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The SEC has won 12 of the past 16 national championships and has four teams in the latest AP Top 25. In 2025, Texas and Oklahoma will leave the Big 12 for the SEC, further strengthening the best conference in college football.



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