New SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is already one of the most powerful people in college sports

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Maybe he knows it already. Perhaps the idea has not yet settled in, which would make sense considering the announcement is not even a day old. New SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will take over the role once Mike Slive officially steps down from his post in Birmingham in August. The second Sankey takes over the job, he will instantly become one fo the most powerful people in college sports.

You can debate whether Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany or Slive of the SEC has the upper hand in the world of college sports for days. Each has a solid case to be made. You cannot go wrong with either. Delany will remain in office in the Big Ten, but Sankey succeeding Slive is about as lateral a move as the SEC could have possibly made. That should mean Sankey’s power position among conference commissioners will stay steady alongside Delany and ahead the figureheads representing the ACC (John Swofford), Big 12 (Bob Bowlsy) or Pac-12 (Larry Scott).

The transition of power in the SEC offices should be a smooth one. That tends to be the case when you can find the next commissioner just down the hall following years of service in the SEC offices and taking on a key role in the running of the conference underneath the commissioner. That is what the SEC is getting with Sankey, so it should very much be able to keep the status quo. Sankey will oversee a conference that has settled in with realignment changes, added a successful sports network in partnership with ESPN and is continuing to see profits on the rise. Things are going well for the SEC, including football despite not being crowned as a national champion for a second straight season.

“He is a quiet, engaging guy,” SEC Network host and commentator Paul Finebaum told AL.com back in October. “You would think he is like Mike Slive’s younger brother. There is no doubt (about) how they have been able to work together so well.”

Despite being able to follow in Slive’s footsteps without conducting a complete overhaul of the conference, there will be some new challenges and tasks for Sankey to oversee. Autonomy is here and power conferences are on the verge of taking advantage of new protocols and regulations. Monitoring those changes will be the responsibility of Sankey, and communicating with his new peer sin other conferences as well as his own conference’s leadership will be key. Sankey may just be there to carry out the wishes of the university presidents within the SEC, his opinions and thoughts will carry a great distance with tremendous volume. What he says will matter.

More importantly, Sankey has developed quite the reputation by having an influence on a number of the big topics floating around college sports today. Sankey has been involved with promoting player welfare. He has been helping to lead the charge to have schools provide full cost of attendance stipends that are finally coming this year. Sankey knows the issues, and seems to be on the cutting edge of the changes going on in the world of college sports.

Being the voice of the SEC will carry some great demands and expectations, but Sankey appears to be a leader who will be comfortable handling those responsibilities.

Ohio State knocks Clemson to No. 4 in latest AP Poll, SMU highest ranked Group of Five team

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Dabo Swinney remarked earlier this season that Clemson was back on the ROY (rest of you) bus… and perhaps there’s something to that for the defending champions.

Despite blowing out Louisville on Saturday, the Tigers actually dropped a spot to No. 4 in the latest AP Poll, getting pipped by new No. 3 Ohio State after the Buckeyes own blowout of a bad Northwestern team on Friday night.

That wasn’t the only notable change in the top 10 as Wisconsin predictably fell from No. 6 to No. 13 after their loss at lowly Illinois on Saturday afternoon, bumping nearly everybody else up in the pecking order and allowing Penn State to take their old spot just behind No. 5 Oklahoma.

Elsewhere in the poll, there’s a new highest ranked Group of Five team as No. 16 SMU supplants Boise State after the Broncos lost at BYU. BSU actually is behind No. 18 Cincinnati and No. 21 Appalachian State as well.

No. 23 Iowa State and No. 25 Wake Forest both returned to the top 25 this week after wins to supplant Washington and Missouri.

The full AP Poll heading into Week 9:

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Ohio State
  4. Clemson
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Penn State
  7. Florida
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Auburn
  10. Georgia
  11. Oregon
  12. Utah
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Baylor
  15. Texas
  16. SMU
  17. Minnesota
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Michigan
  20. Iowa
  21. Appalachian State
  22. Boise State
  23. Iowa State
  24. Arizona State
  25. Wake Forest

Wisconsin, Boise State drop like a rock in latest Coaches Poll, Penn State moves into top six

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A weekend in college football that was filled with upsets of ranked teams predictably caused a bit of chaos in the latest edition of the polls on Sunday.

The biggest shuffling was left to the victim of the biggest upset of the still young 2019 season as Wisconsin fell like a rock seven spots to No. 13 in the latest Coaches Poll after the Badgers inexplicable loss to Illinois. Their vacation from the top 10 allowed pretty much everybody in front of them to move up a spot in the order, with Penn State the new No. 6 team in the country after beating new No. 20 Michigan.

Though UW tanked in the poll, they weren’t the biggest free fallers as that was reserved for Boise State, which fell eight spots to No. 21 after losing on the road to unranked BYU. The Broncos did start their backup QB in the game but voters likely only paid attention to the final score, which allowed new No. 17 SMU to become the highest ranked Group of Five team.

Washington and Temple both dropped out of the top 25 following losses, replaced by No. 23 Wake Forest and No. 25 Memphis.

The full Coaches Poll heading into Week 9:

  1. Alabama (44 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson (10)
  3. LSU (3)
  4. Ohio State (8)
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Penn State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Auburn
  11. Oregon
  12. Utah
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Baylor
  15. Texas
  16. Minnesota
  17. SMU
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Iowa
  20. Michigan
  21. Boise State
  22. Appalachian State
  23. Wake Forest
  24. Arizona State
  25. Memphis

Tennessee QB Brian Maurer suffers concussion against Alabama, his second in two games

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Jarrett Guarantano might be Tennessee’s quarterback a little longer than fans would like following the team’s loss at Alabama on Saturday.

According to head coach Jeremy Pruitt in his postgame press conference, Vols starting quarterback Brian Maurer was confirmed to have suffered a concussion against the Crimson Tide and that he is being placed under the standard evaluation protocol.

Complicating matters for UT and their freshman signal-caller is that this is not just a one-off injury but his second concussion in as many games. He was taken out of the first half in the team’s win against Mississippi State and then missed the final three quarters against Alabama after taking a hard hit that wasn’t flagged, much to the chagrin of the coaching staff.

Maurer was 5-of-7 passing for 62 yards (one interception) prior to exiting with the injury.

The Vols host South Carolina next weekend and then have UAB come to Neyland Stadium the week after, both contests that seem unlikely to feature Maurer as he recovers from such a concerning trend the past two games.

Tua Tagovailoa tells Alabama teammates ‘I’ll be back for LSU’

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It’s not exactly great injury news but, in the grand scheme of things, it could’ve been a lot worse.

Late in the first half of Alabama’s win over rival Tennessee, starting quarterback and Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa went down with an apparent ankle injury. After spending time in the sideline medical tent, Tagovailoa went into the locker room for further observation.

Not long after that, Tagovailoa was seen exiting the stadium and getting into the back of an ambulance; he would ultimately return to the sidelines but not the game as Mac Jones finished out the win.

Immediately following the game, Nick Saban stated that Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain, a similar injury he worked through a season ago, and will “probably be out a week or two.” In the postgame press conference, the head coach all but ruled the junior out for next weekend’s home game against Arkansas.

Following next Saturday’s game, top-ranked Alabama will be on a bye in Week 10 before its huge showdown with No. 2 LSU in Tuscaloosa Nov. 9.  According to the current timeline provided by Saban, Tagovailoa should be healthy and available for the Tigers.

Additional testing, including an MRI, will be performed Sunday morning, so the timeline for a return is certainly fluid and will be the main topic of watercooler conversation in the coming days.  At the moment, though, the player and his teammates are optimistic for a return sooner rather than later.

“He said, ‘I’ll be back for LSU,’” linebacker Terrell Lewis said in the postgame aftermath. “I know how Tua is. It’s something he’s been through before, so I don’t doubt the fact that he’s a competitor. He’s going to get right back, and he’ll be fine.”

In Saturday night’s game, and prior to the injury, Tagovailoa failed to throw a touchdown pass for the only time as the Crimson Tide’s starter and for the first time overall since Oct. 14 of 2017.  He also threw his second interception on the season.

In replacing Tagovailoa, the redshirt sophomore Jones completed six of his 11 passes for 72 yards and had neither a touchdown nor an interception.