Kevin Warren

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SEC commissioner Greg Sankey warns ‘we are running out of time’ as decisions in the sport loom

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It just means more… angst when it comes to a 2020 season, especially when it comes to the SEC and the boss who will help decide if there is football this fall.

This past week, after the Big Ten’s decision to go conference-only games, both that league’s commissioner and one of its most powerful athletic directors sounded the alarm for an upcoming season. “We may not have a college football season in the Big Ten,” Kevin Warren warned. “ can’t reiterate enough the fact that we might not play. We just might not,” Gene Smith stated.

The SEC is expected to make its decision later this month on whether, like the Big Ten, to go to a conference-only schedule for football.  Ahead of that, Greg Sankey stated during an interview that the sport “is running out of time.” And blasted the politicizing of safety in the midst of the pandemic.

“We put a medical advisory group together in early April with the question, ‘What do we have to do to get back to activity?’ and they’ve been a big part of the conversation,” Sankey said by way of ESPN.com. “But the direct reality is not good and the notion that we’ve politicized medical guidance of distancing, and breathing masks, and hand sanitization, ventilation of being outside, being careful where you are in buildings. There’s some very clear advice about — you can’t mitigate and eliminate every risk, but how do you minimize the risk? … We are running out of time to correct and get things right, and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be.”

The Pac-12 has already joined the Big Ten in going conference-only for the fall.  The ACC announced it will make a decision in late July.  The Big 12 is expected to have such a timeline as well.

Big Ten commish, Ohio State AD decidedly pessimistic on B1G having a 2020 college football season

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The Big Ten toppled the first significant domino earlier in the day.  Now, two of the most powerful men in the conference are expounding on the development.  And, if you’re a fan of the sport, you might want to close your eyes when reading the next few paragraphs.  Or take several shots of an adult beverage before proceeding.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.

In television appearances following the announcement, the B1G’s commissioner didn’t put a positive spin on football’s immediate future.

“One thing we have to realize is that this is not a fait accompli that we’re going to have sports in the fall,” Kevin Warren flatly stated. “We may not have sports in the fall, we may not have a college football season in the Big Ten. …

“We made a vow early on that, first and foremost, we would put the health, the safety and the wellness of our student-athletes at the center of all of our decisions.

Gene Smith was equally pessimistic.

“I can’t reiterate enough the fact that we might not play,” the Ohio State athletic director said in discussing football in 2020. “We just might not, and I think people need to understand that.”

It’s expected that other Power Five conferences will follow the lead of the Big Ten.  In the coming days, both the ACC and Pac-12 will most likely announce a conference-only football schedule.  The lone exception will be the ACC including Notre Dame, which already has six games against the conference on its 2020 slate, in any revamped schedule.

The Big 12 and SEC are widely expected to kick the scheduling can down the road a bit longer, perhaps as late as the end of July.  In the end, however, both of those Power Fives are likely to come to the same scheduling conclusion.

Vice President Mike Pence to talk with College Football Playoff Management Committee

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Key figures within the College Football Playoff machine will get an audience at the highest levels of the federal government.

Earlier this week, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock addressed the uncertainty of when the sport will resume, stating that he and his staffers are moving forward with plans as if there will be a season and a playoff to determine a champion. And planning for it to be played “on time.” Hancock also allowed that they will have contingency plans in place in case the start of the season is delayed as late as next February.

In that vein, it’s being reported that Vice President Mike Pence, the point man for President Donald Trump‘s Coronavirus Task Force, will speak to the College Football Playoff Management Committee at some point today.  Exactly what will be discussed is unclear.

For those unaware, the College Football Playoff Management Committee is comprised of the 10 FBS conference commissioners as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

  • AAC — Mike Aresco
  • ACC — John Swofford
  • Big Ten — Kevin Warren
  • Big 12 — Bob Bowlsby
  • Conference USA — Judy MacLeod
  • MAC — Jon Steinbrecher
  • MWC — Craig Thompson
  • Pac-12 — Larry Scott
  • SEC — Greg Sankey
  • Sun Belt — Keith Gill

It should also be noted that this committee differs from the College Football Playoff Board of Managers.  That body, which wields the true power in the CFP, consists of 11 presidents and chancellors representing the 10 FBS conferences plus Notre Dame.  As a primer:

  • AAC — R. Gerald Turner, SMU
  • ACC — John Thrasher, Florida State
  • Big Ten — Eric Barron, Penn State
  • Big 12 — Greg Fenves, Texas (Fenves is leaving this summer for Emory)
  • Conference USA — Rodney Bennett, Southern Miss
  • Independents — Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame
  • MAC — Satish Tripathi, Buffalo
  • MWC — Joe Castro, Fresno State
  • Pac-12 — Kirk Schulz, Washington State
  • SEC — Mark Keenum, Mississippi State (chair)
  • Sun Belt — Jack Hawkins, Troy