The upcoming college football season continues to take shape as a number of leagues have decided to cancel non-conference games for 2020. The Southeastern Conference has reportedly joined the movement.
According to AL.com, the SEC will play a conference-only schedule for the 2020 season. The league will work with a 10-game, conference-only schedule that is currently slated to begin on Sept. 26.
The Big Ten was the first FBS conference to officially announce changes to the 2020 college football schedule due to the COVD-19 pandemic, announcing on July 9 that it was moving to a conference-only schedule. One day later, the Pac-12 announced that it was following suit.
The SEC’s announcement impacts several prominent non-conference matchups in line for the fall, including Texas’ trip to LSU and Ole Miss’ matchup against Baylor in Houston. AT&T Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium planned to play host to some marquee matchups featuring the SEC, with Alabama vs USC in Arlington, meanwhile, Georgia vs Virginia and Auburn vs North Carolina was staged for Atlanta.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey joined The Rich Eisen Show in late June and discussed the future of the 2020 season. Sankey did not give an exact date as to when schools would decide on playing or not, but rather a general timeline as to when it might come.
“I think that’s probably a late-July time period. My thinking has shifted a bit,” Sankey said. “We started June 8 after a two-week oversight, diagnostic medical exam period for these voluntary activities. We’ll have three or four weeks — on the 13th of July is when a little bit more practice can begin. I think we deserve the chance to see how that progresses. I would say before we get into full-blown practice, you’re going to be in that decision-making process as it relates to what happens on Labor Day weekend, which is the scheduled start of the season.”
Later in the interview, Sankey added that he and the other four Power Five conference commissioners speak on a daily basis and discuss where things stand right now with the season’s future. The commissioners have already had discussions as to how they will handle scheduling if one conference opts out of playing this fall, but others decide to play anyways.
“That’s one of the complexities that’s in front of college football,” Sankey said. “It’s different than the professional conversation. The best example I can give is to go back to March. We all made independent decisions to stop our basketball tournament, but came to the same conclusions. The result of what’s happened is among the autonomy conferences, those of us in the (Power) Five — ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and myself — we talk every day. We have medical committees; they talk every week. That will be a big part of guiding us forward.”
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