Todd Blackledge doesn’t believe there’s any sort of current rivalry between the SEC and the Big Ten. Of course, it’s easy to say that when football season and bowl games are not in session, but recent decisions help illustrate that idea.

During an appearance on Greg McElroy’s “Always College Football” show, Blackledge describes the current situation more as “mutual respect” between the two power leagues. Part of that is related to leadership, and Blackledge believes the two commissioners are now working to help each other capitalize on the current landscape.

“I don’t know if I see it as a rivalry, I think there’s mutual respect. Greg Sankey and Tony Petitti are both really smart guys who have made some really shrewd decisions,” Blackledge explained.

“…I think they both realize we have a good thing going, and it may appear like a rivalry, but I think they both see they help each other as well. I think the fact that they are kind of moving in lockstep ahead of the pack, I think they benefit from each other.”

Here is Blackledge’s appearance with the SEC vs. Big Ten comments beginning around the 8:15 mark:

Changing the “rivalry”

For years, it did appear that the Big Ten and SEC viewed the landscape as an “us vs. them” scenario. That was also the perception when the SEC made the groundbreaking announcement that Texas and Oklahoma would be joining the SEC with the Big Ten (and the rest of the country) scrambling to try and keep up in the next round of expansion.

The Big Ten did enough to counter the SEC’s move, and the Big Ten’s latest media rights deal was a shrewd play with the ESPN and SEC locked into a long-term relationship. But, beyond that, Sankey and Petitti finally saw the pros in working in step with one another as opposed to viewing each other as rivals.

That paved the way for the two leagues to dominate the latest round of College Football Playoff talks for the contract beginning in 2026 and beyond. Even with giving up some reported “protections” for the other conferences in the country, the SEC and Big Ten are in a position to drive the future of college football in a way few have in the past.

In a way, the two leagues have confirmed: The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and they are both better off as a result.