The SEC has never been left out of the College Football Playoff since the four-team event would implemented in 2014, but there's speculation that the streak could end this weekend if No. 8 Alabama beats No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, which would leave the SEC without an undefeated team. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey isn't buying that, and campaigned heavily on Saturday for his league to make the playoff no matter what unfolds between the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs.
"That's not the real world of college football," Sankey said on College GameDay. "Let's go back to Sesame Street to make it real basic, because one of these things is not like the other, and that is the Southeastern Conference. We have five of the top-15 teams.
"We actually don't send signs to other people in advance," he added, poking fun at the Michigan sign-stealing scandal. "But that is cool too. But we have a third (of the top-15), and our teams are playing everyone in the conference. They are all attached and have to overcome a lot of adversity in intense environments. There are going to be close games. But the reality is that no one has experienced the success that we have in the playoff. So when you actually put us against the teams rather than in the committee rooms, we stand alone."
Sankey's comments echoedon Friday as the Crimson Tide look to upset Georgia and avoid missing the playoff in consecutive seasons for the first time. Saban went as far as suggesting both teams should qualify for the playoff if Alabama upends the two-time reigning national champion Bulldogs.
"There should be some representation from the SEC regardless of who wins (the SEC Championship Game), absolutely," Saban told the Pat McAfee Show. "I think this is one of best leagues in the country. If you're a one-loss team and you played through (the SEC), I think you're one of the best four teams in the country."
What has potential to cause a headache for the playoff selection committee -- and potentially harm the SEC if Alabama beats Georgia -- is if three Power Five teams exit Saturday sitting 13-0. No. 3 Washington has already cemented itself as undefeated league champion after beating Oregon in Pac-12 Championship Game, and could be joined by No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Florida State out of the Big Ten and ACC, respectively.
The other issue is the fact that one-loss Texas, which has a head-to-head victory against Alabama, is already ranked a spot ahead of the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff Rankings. The No. 7 Longhorns face No. 18 Oklahoma State Saturday in the Big 12 Championship Game.
If Georgia takes care of business, the SEC continuing its playoff presence is a lock. But otherwise, there are plenty of variables at play that could cause chaos before the four-team field is revealed Sunday.