College Sports

The SEC commissioner tells UCF to look ‘inward’ for CFP inclusion

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during a news conference before the SEC Championship Game on Nov. 30. Sankey says UCF needs to beef up its nonconference schedule.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during a news conference before the SEC Championship Game on Nov. 30. Sankey says UCF needs to beef up its nonconference schedule. AP

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was asked about college football playoff expansion and UCF during his time at the Sports Business Journal and Daily’s Intercollegiate Athletic Forum in New York.

Sankey referenced the SEC’s past plight getting into the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2016 for his advice to UCF for getting shutout of the CFP after a second straight unbeaten season.

“We weren’t living up to our expectations. Rather than point to the selection committee, other people ... we looked inward and said: ‘How do we adjust to the circumstances around us?’” Sankey told the Associated Press. “I would observe that’s the challenge for everybody at the FBS level.”

It’s the same message Sankey said last year on the eve of the CFP national title game in Atlanta between Alabama and Georgia, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Sankey, who has not been an advocate for playoff expansion in the past year, reiterated where the CFP is currently.

“We’re at four, though,” Sankey told the AP. “Everybody walked into this with their eyes open. Strength of schedule is a part of it. Résumé is a part of it. It’s not just about going undefeated in a season. That was never a criteria: If you go undefeated you’re in the top four. But there are complexities to it and there are complexities that will be unique for every program.”

UCF athletic director Danny White is vocal about expanding the playoff, blasting it as an invitational earlier this week. Last year, he proclaimed the Knights national champions and had a banner hung, parade thrown and championship memorabilia following UCF’s 13-0 record capped by a Peach Bowl win over Auburn.

UCF gets a chance to defeat another SEC power this year when the Knights play LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.

However, the criticism surrounding UCF is its strength of schedule. That was something Sankey pointed to on how UCF can improve moving forward, according to the AP.

“When it was us and when it was men’s basketball, we knew we had two top-50 teams in 2015-16, which means you had virtually no top-50 wins in men’s basketball,” Sankey told the AP. “How are you going to access those wins? You have to improve your nonconference schedule.”

White told the AP in a text message: “Basketball teams are rewarded for playing tough teams such as UCF through metrics like RPI or NET, while football teams avoid us because they’re concerned about the ‘eye test.’”

White borrowed the AAC’s slogan of a Power 6 when adding UCF is willing to play any Power 6 opponent.

“The challenge is that not many are willing to play us,” White told the AP.

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