Commentary: Pac-12 took warmth for delaying playoff expansion. But SEC arrived out major loser

For far too extended, the Pac-12 has served as an nearly-eager nationwide punching bag. All through the weekend, as passionate college or university football observers processed the information that the Faculty Football Playoff would not grow before the 2026 period, it was only normal that the sport’s impression shapers assigned the proverbial clown accommodate to the West Coast’s Energy 5 convention.

When again, centered on the narrative becoming spun from the center of the nation, the league established by itself up for ridicule. Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff had been trumpeting his total aid of enlargement, his flexibility in hammering out all the trivialities, and but, when it came to voting, he had explained no, alongside with the Significant 10 and Atlantic Coast Conferences. So the Pac-12, which hasn’t been to the 4-crew playoff considering that the 2016 period, had somehow refused additional accessibility, jeopardizing that it could possibly go a total decade devoid of a consultant?

Some of the criticism is honest. Some of it isn’t. But, in advance of we get caught in the similar previous pattern of choosing on the Pac-12, how about we pose a various problem: What if the major loser in the failure to develop the CFP was the convention with the most to acquire — the a person that experienced been pulling the strings more challenging than any other the previous two-as well as yrs to thrust the variety to 12?

Finally, the Southeastern Convention, winner of the very last 3 nationwide championships and 12 of 16 in general, could not bully its way to victory.

Now, a disclaimer: I feel expansion could be wonderful for college soccer, and of class it would pretty substantially advantage the Pac-12 to have far more groups invited to the event. The level I’m about to make is that agreeing to it now, specified how the process performed out the very last six months, would have only elevated the SEC’s posture of dominance in excess of the relaxation of the Electric power 5, even the money-flush Huge Ten.

There are several absurd points about university soccer that we just kind of take. A evident one particular is that it is an ever more specialist activity that has no countrywide leadership to govern its dealings, putting aside the regional biases that make the game the stunning spectacle it is.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is the most impressive gentleman in college soccer. He’s gladly stepped into that void with the cachet that arrives from primary the colleges found in a section of the nation the place it just usually means far more.

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Sankey was one particular of four commissioners on the subcommittee that set together the preliminary 12-workforce playoff proposal. The basics of the proposal ended up released in June, virtually triumphantly, in advance of the 3 first-yr Power 5 commissioners (Kliavkoff and the Huge Ten’s Kevin Warren and the ACC’s Jim Phillips) experienced even gotten a opportunity to examine the get the job done.

Then, in July, the news leaked that Texas and Oklahoma have been doing work to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, generating the 1st 16-group “super convention.”

From the minute that happened, I considered that the Longhorns and Sooners had been convinced by Sankey that a 12-crew playoff was coming, opening up the likely that approximately fifty percent the discipline could come from the stacked SEC. Guaranteed, UT and OU would want the windfall of profits from the SEC’s annual distribution, but Oklahoma in specific would not depart its soft path to the 4-crew playoff in the Big 12 to fight with Alabama, Louisiana Condition, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn for a maximum of two spots the SEC could declare each and every year.

The rest of the nation need to be thanking the Texas A&M people who tipped off the Houston Chronicle to the backroom maneuvering. Envision if Texas and Oklahoma’s intentions had stayed peaceful and the commissioners experienced signed off on 12 teams very first?

As a substitute, Sankey’s electricity participate in was out in the open up. The Significant Ten, Pac-12 and ACC commissioners came alongside one another to sort the “Alliance,” with the assist of their presidents and chancellors. When it was uncovered last 7 days that the trio voted no to CFP enlargement ahead of the current contract operates out immediately after the 2025 time, the assumption was they experienced functioned as a voting bloc. But it was not that basic.

Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Convention, watches a game amongst Tennessee and Alabama on Oct. 23 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

(Vasha Hunt / Related Push)

The Major 10 would not take a strategy that did not ensure automatic qualification to Electric power 5 champions. Phillips of the ACC claimed publicly that expansion was not the appropriate shift until finally college or university football dealt with participant overall health and safety concerns of playing more online games.

The Pac-12, on the other hand, would have voted of course to any proposal if it was for only the 2024 and 2025 seasons. But the vote would have prolonged the agreement into 2026 and further than, and Kliavkoff has claimed he was not provided the solutions he necessary on profits sharing and how the Rose Bowl’s desire to continue being the only match played on New Year’s Working day at its common kickoff time would be taken care of in a 12-staff model.

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Since Kliavkoff knew that amending the recent contract would have to have unanimous consent and the ACC was already going to vote from it, he also voted no, sending a message that could have about into long run negotiations for the upcoming playoff format.

You can guess Kliavkoff’s conversations with his presidents and chancellors are likely a lot far better than Sankey’s — notably in Norman, Okla., and Austin, Texas. The Sooners and Longhorns could be staring at an even a lot more perilous climb back again to the countrywide championship activity, which makes me curious how Sankey’s posturing that the SEC would be wonderful keeping at four teams for the CFP is heading around.

I cannot see how campus leaders at LSU, Ga and Florida would be joyful about sharing nominal access with Oklahoma and Texas, and we know how Texas A&M feels.

Barring a majorly rapid turnaround at USC beneath new mentor Lincoln Riley, the Pac-12 is not on the doorstep of winning a nationwide championship in just the up coming 4 many years as it is. Kliavkoff’s get the job done in that time is to keep on to thrust his presidents to spend in soccer infrastructure to max out the league’s impending media rights negotiations to discover a additional monetarily welcoming headquarters and to make choices with a football-initially state of mind. That is not exciting to the normal fan, but it’s the true do the job at hand.

The stakes of the expansion final decision had been considerably greater for Sankey’s league. He will keep on to say normally, and when negotiations start anew for the up coming CFP contract, he is very likely to use the immense leverage that the SEC is so self-ample it could just start its own postseason.

Would that be an empty risk? Likely. Sankey’s constituents are deeply driven by a want for regional superiority. Higher education football just can’t just signify a lot more in the SEC if the convention cannot prove it against the rest of the union.

There will be an expanded bracket in 2026. Now there is a chance Pac-12 groups will appreciate a more even participating in field.

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