Could a ‘SEC only’ playoff be on the horizon?

Now that would be fun.

As a fanbase, we can stop beating around the bush and say this: SEC Football is better than anything else in college football. If it were possible, the SEC could probably send at least three teams to the college football playoffs each year, and it wouldn’t be a worse product.

Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M would all have been worthy contenders in the playoffs last year, but that’s something fans would never get in the current college football postseason format.

With college football planning to stick with the current playoff format through the 2025 season, an SEC playoff would be a fun way to add some flair to the end of the football season for schools outside of Alabama and Georgia.

After SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey worked with Bob Bowlsby and other commissioners to develop an expansion plan that made sense for all, “The Alliance” of the Big 10, ACC and Pac-12 conferences withdrew at the last minute and cited “more pressing issues” at the time.

Sankey didn’t hold back his disappointment when talks about playoff expansion fell apart.

“Apparently people didn’t take me seriously when I said we can leave it at four,” Sankey told the media a few weeks ago. “So I was sitting there watching this game (Alabama-Georgia) and I was like, they just thought I wasn’t serious.”

The SEC appears to be weighing its options, and with so much at stake, nothing is set in stone. ESPN had more on this with a few words from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.

Sankey emphasized that no seismic change is imminent. However, he did mention that an SEC-only playoff, in various forms, was among the nearly 40 different models that SEC officials discussed at their recent meetings.

“As we think as a conference,” he said of ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Monday, “it’s vital that we think about the range of possibilities.”

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin repeated this notion to ESPN:

“We have an incredibly strong league that will be even stronger when Oklahoma and Texas join,” Stricklin shared with Thamel. “The focus should be how we as a league use this strength to continue to position the SEC in the face of new realities. Commissioner Sankey has encouraged our athletic directors to think creatively and an SEC-only playoff is another idea we should definitely consider.”

Sankey is dead here. There are so many strong programs in the SEC, and at least one more is on the way when the Sooners and Longhorns join.

This is something to watch over the next few years as many things could take these ideas forward or backward. Is that a pose by Sankey and the SEC? Could they use their influence as college football’s premier conference brand to put pressure on the rest of the Power Five, namely “The Alliance”? Could he test this idea to see how schools and fan bases feel about an SEC playoff that could be worth big bucks in their next media rights negotiations?

The SEC hasn’t committed to what the schedule will be with OU and Texas as they could potentially stick with divisions or opt for four-team pods. Adding Texas and Oklahoma to the big brands the SEC already boasts gives them incredible appeal.

I like the three-and-six plan, playing three games a year against permanent rivals and rotating through the other six. Coincidentally, I designed my own four-team pods for the SEC, and this is what came out:

Pod 1

Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto (11) tries on Casey Thompson (11) of Texas during the Red River Showdown college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to reach. Saturday, October 9, 2021. Oklahoma won 55-48. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Terry – The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Texas A&M Texas Mizzou

Pod 2

November 6, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) throws under pressure at LSU Tigers defenseman Neil Farrell Jr. (92) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 20-14. Gary Cosby Jr-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Auburn LSU Arkansas

Pod 3

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss Mississippi State Kentucky Vanderbilt

Pod 4

Nov 2, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) runs out of pocket in the second quarter at EverBank Field against the Florida Gators. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee


Are Vandy and Tennessee rivals? Should I feel bad for not putting them in the same capsule?

Anyway, one way an SEC playoff might work is to take the winner of each pod by conference record and seed them from first through fourth. It might also be fun to throw in a wild card or two and give the top two teams a bye.

This is definitely something that has the potential not only to provide great entertainment, but also to be good for postseason college football health. Bowl game opt-outs are still a massive problem and at least in the SEC a tournament would help alleviate this problem.

Imagine home playoff games in a college football atmosphere.

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