SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on Wednesday pointed to a positive trend Wednesday within his conference and the COVID-19 pandemic, while also being asked some of the more popular questions as it relates to the upcoming college football season.
Sankey, who was a guest on Outkick on Wednesday, did appear optimistic in terms of testing numbers from last week on SEC campuses. Over the weekend, he said things werent trending in a positive direction.
Our numbers are way down from the low single digits to zero, Sankey told Clay Travis. One of my presidents said, Hey, I feel comfortable we can support and oversee and keep people healthy.
Thats not to say were out of the woods yet. Sankey has remained consistent with his message about preaching patience as he continues to gather information. Data and statistics from upcoming events, he said, will be crucial.
The (NASCAR) Bristol event tonight is an important stat, said Sankey, citing the number of fans in the stands. Major League Baseball will move people around. Thats an important set of information. The start of NFL training camp is important for us to watch football practices taking place. We have time before our practices to adjust.
Over the 23-minute interview, a lot of ground was covered. Here are some of the highlights:
On whether he expects Alabama (vs. USC) and Texas A&M (vs. Colorado) to replace Pac-12 foes and are they working on it?
The opportunities will be there, he said. Were not along in having a lost non-conference games because of other conference decisions. All these other football programs that have lost opportunities are now looking for games as well.
There will be opportunities for both Alabama and A&M to find other opponents should they move down that pathway. … I dont know when theyll make the decision or when theyll announce.
Does he expect all Power 5 conferences to have uniform decisions or difference plans?
I dont envision a total hodge podge, Sankey said. There are three of us (SEC, ACC, Big 12) communicating for obvious reasons about the importance of patience in our decision making. Right now, I can envision different directions. Thats part of the waiting. That doesnt mean its going to happen.
On non-conference rivalry games like Georgi-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina and Florida-Florida State:
From a scheduling standpoint, depending on what happens, I dont know what happens with the ability and flexibility within a schedule and the time we may need to play those games and still determine a conference champion, Sankey said.
What you saw out of others is heavy emphasis on creating space on their schedules so they could play conference games and determine a conference champion. Were not at that point yet, but we have to be attentive to what realities may develop and guide our decision making.
Sankey added the league has been working for a long long time on alternate schedules to reflect any number of games. He stopped short of saying the SEC has been working on a 10-game conference-only schedule because of the CFP debate.
However, an odd number of conference games seems unlikely because of the uneven number of home games for each member institution.
Check out the full interview below:
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.