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SEC commissioner Sankey takes in his 1st Texas-Oklahoma game year before the schools join his league

DALLAS (AP) — SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey attended Saturday’s game between No. 3 Texas and No. 12 Oklahoma, the first time he watched the Red River rivals play their game at the State Fair of Texas that will become part of his league next year after they move from the Big 12.

Texas and Oklahoma accepted invitations in 2021 to join the Southeastern Conference, which will become a 16-team league next year.

“I’m a fan of college football, so I’ve wanted to be here,” Sankey said. “After the announcement in ’21, remember that last year at this time we were still making preparations for a 2025 season entering. That changed, so this is the last opportunity for this to not be a conference game.”

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark wasn’t scheduled to be at the game.

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Sankey and Yormark were together recently at a College Football Playoff meeting of the conference commissioners in Chicago. Sankey said they have a healthy relationship and had a “really cordial conversation.”

Sankey said the game at Cotton Bowl Stadium, with the fans are split 50-50 burnt orange and crimson, is consistent with what the SEC experiences on a weekly basis. He said he could feel the intensity coming in, with fans being friendly toward each other, but clearly rivals.

On the field before the game, Sankey shook hands with actor and Texas superfan Matthew McConaughey.

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When asked why he chose the Texas-Oklahoma game over No. 11 Alabama at Texas A&M later in the day, Sankey smiled and said he would be there as well. College Station is about 180 miles from Cotton Bowl Stadium.

“I get around. I get around in a car. I get around on commercial airline … every so often other means of transportation,” he said.

Before initially going to the SEC as an associate commissioner in 2002, Sankey was commissioner of the Southland Conference and had worked for that league for 10 years. He lived in nearby Allen, not far from the State Fair of Texas.

“There weren’t a lot of people saying, ‘Hey, I got tickets’. It was kind of a high, high demand ticket. And then I became commissioner of that league. I was busy with my own work on Saturdays,” Sankey said. “I would drive by with great admiration and wonder what’s going on in there. So it’s a fun chance to see it today.”

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll