HOOVER, Ala. — Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey opened SEC football media days Monday by touching on a number of topics, from instant replay to transfer rules to the expanded power his office has to reschedule weather-disrupted games.
Sankey, presiding over his third SEC media days since becoming commissioner in 2015, said the conference is supporting a 14-week football regular season with two open dates but wants to guard against preseason practice beginning even earlier. He also expressed his dislike of football coaches blocking transfers, saying change to that rule is “something that should move forward.”
Sankey discussed the conference’s first foray into “collaborative” instant replay for football last season, with replay officials on site at games reviewing plays with officials at SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. The collaborative process remains an experimental rule as far as the NCAA is concerned, Sankey said, but one he hopes will become permanent.
“By all accounts, it worked well,” Sankey said. “We’re still not perfect in our officiating, but we will strive for that this year.”
As was announced in June at the SEC Spring Meeting, the conference will experiment with collaborative replay for conference basketball games this season and is seeking permission from the NCAA baseball rules committee to expand instant replay for that sport.
“Thanks to ESPN (through the SEC Network) and our campus production staffs, we have coverage that is unparalleled and can perhaps enhance replay,” Sankey said. “That’s our goal.”
Of interest on a local level, Sankey reiterated the broader authority his office now has for rescheduling weather-affected games like last season’s LSU-Florida matchup. That postponement resulted in a controversy before the game was eventually moved from Gainesville to Baton Rouge late in the season. LSU will now have to play in 2017 and 2018 at Florida.
“Obviously, there was a lot of learning from last year,” he said. “The commissioner now has authority to place that game.”
Sankey also restated the new rule that a school must complete its eight-game conference schedule to be eligible for the SEC championship.
As for the prospect of divisional realignment, Sankey said that continues not to be “an agenda item at our meetings. It’s in the conversation at most large press conferences at which I appear. That’s the extent of it.”
Sankey said at the SEC Spring Meeting that Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs informally discussed the possibility of his Tigers moving to the SEC East with him then.