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Paul Finebaum Names The 1 "North Star" In College Sports

An extreme closeup of ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum from the Cotton Bowl in Texas in 2019.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31: TV/radio personality Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network speaks on air before the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Now that the 2021 college football season has come to a close, it's a good time to take a step back and survey the wider landscape of the sport. Paul Finebaum did exactly that on Wednesday by pointing to one key figure and labeling them the "North Star" of college athletics.

On the

"He's become the North Star of college athletics"
@finebaum speaks to @SEC commissioner Greg Sankey's impact on college sports pic.twitter.com/XiLtN2a5i9

— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) January 12, 2022

">latest episode of 

"He's become the North Star of college athletics"
@finebaum speaks to @SEC commissioner Greg Sankey's impact on college sports pic.twitter.com/XiLtN2a5i9

— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) January 12, 2022

">Outside the Lines, the ESPN host heaped a boatload of praise onto Greg Sankey. He complimented the SEC commissioner on his ability to fill multiple roles around the NCAA, while still looking out for the best interests of his own league.

“In many ways, he has become the North Star of college athletics,” Finebaum said of Sankey. “Why? You heard in Ryan’s piece, because he is collaborative, he is congenial and he is trying to be something that many commissioners are not. Their job is to represent their league, but Greg Sankey is on many committees. He’s been the chairman of the NCAA infractions committee. So he understands the machinations of the NCAA. But he also understands the role of the SEC.

“It’s easy when you’re the SEC commissioner to beat your chest, scream out S-E-C, S-E-C and not really care about anyone else, but that’s not who he is, and I think that’s why he’s so respected. I think it’s also why he’s also so envied, especially last summer after Oklahoma and Texas called him wanting to get into the SEC. Many criticized him, as if they would not have taken those 2 blue-blood programs into their own league.”

Finebaum has been effusive in his praise for Sankey in the past. He applauded the efforts that the SEC commissioner made during the pandemic-altered season in 2020 and for having both Georgia and Alabama in the football national championship game this year.

Perhaps Sankey's biggest contribution to the league over the last 12 months is agreeing to terms with Oklahoma and Texas to jump from the Big 12 to the SEC later this decade. The decision came together this past summer, just before the start of the 2021 college football season.

Sankey, who took over as commissioner in 2015 after serving in a number of roles with the conference, seems poised to be a major power-broker in college athletics for many years to come.