SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey Thinks Expanded CFP Will Help CFB Be 'Strong Nationally'

Adam WellsSeptember 21, 2022

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 28: SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey attends the AutoZone Liberty Bowl between Mississippi State and Texas Tech at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on December 28, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Justin Ford/Getty Images

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is optimistic about what the expanded College Football Playoff will do for the sport's popularity.

Speaking to ESPN's Chris Low, Sankey said the impetus behind increasing the playoff field from four teams to 12 was to give more fan bases a rooting interest late in the season.

"We want college football to be strong nationally," he explained, "and I think that's the responsibility we all have."

After years of speculation, the College Football Playoff board of managers unanimously voted to approve expanding the field to 12 teams earlier this month.

It's unclear at this point when the change will be implemented, but it won't happen any later than 2026.

"If everyone wants to get there [by 2024], they will," one person who will be in the room told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.

According to Low, the decision made last month by USC and UCLA to move to the Big Ten brought a "renewed push to expedite" the 12-team playoff format to 2024.

Sankey's perspective is the increased field will help make college football less of a regional sport.

"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 told Low. "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."

It's hard to think of college football as a regionalized sport anymore. A 12-team playoff could lead to a television contract worth $2 billion per year, according to Alan Blinder of the New York Times.

The 2022 College Football Playoff Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia was the most-watched non-NFL sporting event since 2020.

Expansion of the playoff will allow for more teams and conferences to have an opportunity to compete for the championship. Only 13 programs have made the College Football Playoff in its current four-team format since its inception in 2014.