SEC baseball shows during College World Series what league’s football strives to be like

One hallway at the Southeastern Conference offices recently underwent a transformation. In it now hangs a display of photos from every national championship game or event that pitted two league teams.

"A new tradition," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. "There’s still space to add to that collection."

Sankey has come to Omaha from Birmingham, Ala., in search of the next photo. Saturday as he watched Arkansas and Ole Miss win on Day 2 of the College World Series, Sankey wore a green shirt adorned with the SEC logo. It’s the only color that won’t get him in trouble here, because nothing about it shows support for one of his programs over another.

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SEC baseball is what SEC football strives to be — a balanced and relentless mix of teams, almost any of which in most years could win a national championship, likely by defeating a lineup of league rivals along the postseason road.

Sankey, increasingly at odds over the past year with other Power 5 commissioners on the details of College Football Playoff expansion, can sit back and smile at the CWS. He can envision the football version of Ole Miss-Auburn in a round-of-eight game. Or a bitter elimination contest between Texas and Texas A&M, as Sankey got to see Sunday at the CWS, with the winner still alive in its bid for a national title.

Five SEC baseball programs have won seven of the past 12 championships. None of those five are among the four from the SEC that qualified to play in Omaha this year.

An SEC team has played an SEC team for the national title three times in football and three times in baseball over the past 11 years. Since the fall of 1998, when college football unveiled the BCS system to determine a champion, no other conference has pulled it off even once in football, baseball or men’s basketball.

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