When we last left the SEC, it was at the league's annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla., which came in the aftermath of the Jimbo Fisher-Nick Saban feud that still continues to reverberate today.
While those involved and those affected by the verbal fisticuffs said they were prepared to move on -- "We're done talking about it," Jimbo said on June 1 -- Greg Sankey did share a tidbit in his opening message for the SEC media days on Monday.
While Sankey was undoubtedly annoyed by the dust-up, he shared Monday that an aide performed him the seating chart for the SEC coaches meeting was trending on Twitter, it allowed him a jumping-off point for the message that he wanted to deliver in regards to the SEC's strategy on NIL.
"I went in with a very clear message, probably not the message that you thought I would communicate, maybe not the message they thought they'd hear, but one that was clear and direct. Here's what I told our coaches: It is never going to be the same, but it doesn't have to be the way that it is," Sankey said.
"We're dealing with complex problems that won't be solved by complaints, by accusations, by finger-pointing, or by offering simple solutions. What is needed now is collaboration, deep thinking about real world solutions, and everyone participating in the conversation."
The result, Sankey said, was a serious of productive conversations among every SEC group, from football coaches to presidents and chancellors, and every group in between.
"We had some of the most in-depth conversations with full participation that I've ever experienced," Sankey said.
"In that conversation we recognized that all too often what sounds like an easy solution to these complexities fails to consider the impacts that those 'easy answers' have on many other matters. In college athletics, we're here because we either pushed aside those conversations or we've dealt with the easy solutions rather than the complexities that account for the full breadth of outcomes and consequences. But in this environment, I'm proud to say in my view and, I think, in the view of our entire membership, the Southeastern Conference is stronger now than at any other time in our history."
Anyone who's ever refereed a fight, be it on a hockey rink or in the back seat of a car between siblings, knows that sometimes nothing settles the mood in the room down like a good fight. Get it out of your system, then everyone can move forward calmly. It's likely that the Saban-Jimbo fight had the same effect in Destin, the tension in the room allowing Sankey a clear platform to broadcast the message he wanted to get across.
So on that front, perhaps the SEC commissioner owes two of his league's head coaches a thank you.