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SEC joins Big Ten, Pac-12 in going with a 10-game, conference-only football schedule for 2020

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The SEC has decided on the direction its football season will take.  If there is a college football season, that is.

Following a meeting of the league’s presidents and chancellors, the SEC announced Thursday that it will go with a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 college football season.  Originally scheduled to start the weekend of Sept. 5, the SEC has now pushed back the season’s kick-off back to Sept. 26.  Additionally, the conference championship game will be played Dec. 19.

John Talty of al.com was the first to report the development.  In confirming the report, the SEC added that each team will have two bye weekends during the regular season: one mid-season (different dates for different schools) as well as a league-wide bye the weekend of Dec. 12.  That, of course, is the weekend prior to the league title game.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

It had been expected that the SEC would follow the ACC’s lead and add a plus-one to the schedule, a non-conference matchup that was previously on the schedule.  Instead, the move means games such as LSU-Texas, South Carolina-Clemson, Florida-Florida State and Georgia-Georgia Tech are officially off the schedule for the 2020 season.

The 14-member SEC will play its six division rivals as well as the regularly-scheduled pair of crossover games.  The additional crossover games that will fill out the 10-game conference slate will be announced at a later date.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 as previously announced that those leagues would be going to a conference-only schedule.  That leaves the Big 12 as the only Power Five to have not signaled its scheduling intentions.

Below are all of the non-conference games for each SEC school that will be canceled:

  • Alabama — USC, Georgia State, Kent State, UT-Martin
  • Arkansas — Nevada, Notre Dame, Charleston Southern, Louisiana-Monroe
  • Auburn — Alcorn State, North Carolina, Southern Miss, UMass
  • Florida — Eastern Washington, South Alabama, New Mexico State, Florida State
  • Georgia — Virginia, East Tennessee State, Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia Tech
  • Kentucky — Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Eastern Illinois, Louisville
  • LSU — UTSA, Texas, Rice, Nicholls State
  • Mississippi State — New Mexico, NC State, Tulane, Alabama A&M
  • Missouri — Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, BYU, Louisiana
  • Ole Miss — Baylor, Southeast Missouri State, UConn, Georgia Southern
  • South Carolina — Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Wofford, Clemson
  • Tennessee — Charlotte, Oklahoma, Furman, Troy
  • Texas A&M — Abiline Christian, North Texas, Colorado, Fresno State
  • Vanderbilt — Mercer, Kansas State, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including a 2018 raise that made then-Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle higher-paid than nearly three dozen FBS head coaches

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The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 25, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football down-time, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: LSU will officially sell alcohol in Tiger Stadium this season
THE SYNOPSIS: By the end of the 2019 campaign — and during it — Tiger fans had plenty of reasons to drink in celebration.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Nick Saban: Jalen Hurts told Alabama coach ‘I am going to be here’
THE SYNOPSIS: Six months later, the quarterback transferred to Oklahoma.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Iowa’s strength coach nets raise, makes him higher paid than nearly three dozen FBS head coaches
THE SYNOPSIS: Amidst controversy, Chris Doyle lost his job as the Iowa strength & conditioning coach last month.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Urban Meyer: Greg Schiano ‘will be head coach’ again after turning down two ‘significant’ jobs this offseason
THE SYNOPSIS: Meyer proved prescient as, two years later, Schiano returned as the head coach at Rutgers.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Florida’s Geoff Collins could become next million-dollar coordinator
THE SYNOPSIS: At the time, nine assistants made seven figures.  Three years later, per the USA Today coaches salary database, that number had nearly tripled to 24.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Three years after the NCAA hammer, Penn State still alive and well
THE SYNOPSIS: Penn State in 2012 was hit with sanctions that were just this side of SMU’s death penalty.  In the eight seasons since, they have not won fewer than seven games.  The past four seasons, the Nittany Lions have won 10-plus games in three of them.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Oklahoma’s 5-star RB Joe Mixon “involved in serious altercation”
THE SYNOPSIS: To say it was serious would be an understatement.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Florida removes Aaron Hernandez’s All-American brick from stadium
THE SYNOPSIS: The move came amidst the former Gator standout being charged in the murder of Odin Lloyd.

2013

THE HEADLINE: After three-year suspension, Georgia OL reinstated by NCAA
THE SYNOPSIS: Kolton Houston‘s years-long odyssey began when he took a banned substance, 19-Norandrosterone, to aid in the healing of a shoulder injury while he was in high school in 2009.  For some inexplicable reason, the drug continued to show up in testing and Houston continued to serve out a suspension.

Justin Fields, Chuba Hubbard headline Maxwell Award preseason watch list

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#WatchListSZN continues unabated, with the Maxwell Award next up on the preseason junket.

Friday morning, the Maxwell Award announced its preseason watch list consisting of 90 college football players from across the country.  Presently annually to the Collegiate Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the sport.

None of the three finalists from a year ago, LSU quarterback and 2019 winner Joe Burrow, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, are on this year’s watch list.  Burrow and Young, incidentally, went 1-2 in the 2020 NFL Draft.  There are, however, six semifinalists from a year ago.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with 15 watch listers, followed by the ACC (14) and SEC (13).  The AAC and Mountain West, with nine apiece, have the most for Group of Five leagues.  And the other Power Fives?  The Pac-12 posted eight, the Big 12 seven.

Four individual schools, Alabama, Indiana, Louisville and Memphis, had three players apiece on the preseason watch list.  Another 11 have two each: Auburn, Boise State, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and SMU.

Below is the complete preseason watch list for the 2020 Maxwell Award.

Atlanta kickoff series organizer: no fans, no games in Mercedes-Benz Stadium

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There is no room for negotiation on one key point as Atlanta organizers consider multiple contingency plans for three season-opening games during the coronavirus pandemic: Without fans, the games can’t be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan, whose organization is making plans for the Florida State-West Virginia, Georgia-Virginia and North Carolina-Auburn kickoff games, says fans must be allowed for the games to be played at the neutral site.

“If there are no fans allowed in the stadium, then we can’t do these games primarily because we only exist in our budget on ticket revenue and sponsor revenues,” Stokan told The Associated Press on Thursday. “All the TV monies are negotiated in a conference package. That money all goes to the conference.”

The Florida State-West Virginia game is scheduled for Sept. 5, followed by Georgia-Virginia on Sept. 7 and North Carolina-Auburn on Sept. 12.

This is the first year Stokan’s committee has planned three kickoff games on the neutral site field. The committee stages the Peach Bowl, part of the College Football Playoff.

Stokan is awaiting decisions from the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 on plans for the 2020 season. Those plans could be announced by the end of the month.

If the leagues rule out nonconference games, as already announced by the Big Ten and Pac-12, the kickoff games would not be played.

One or more of the kickoff games also might not survive if the leagues decide on “plus-one” plans to play conference games and one non-conference game. That plan would protect such rivalry games as Georgia Tech-Georgia and Florida State-Florida but might not leave room for the nonconference kickoff game.

The coronavirus pandemic already has led to the cancellation or postponement of more than 300 Division I games.

The season could be pushed back one month or to the spring.

Stokan says he has assurances that dates will be found at Mercedes-Benz Stadium if the games are rescheduled for later dates.

The NFL’s Atlanta Falcons told season ticket holders this week they plan to have 10,000 to 20,000 fans at their home games this season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team plans to leave 50,000 or more seats open to achieve necessary social distancing.

The stadium can be configured for 75,000 fans for college football.

Stokan says his committee is devising a plan with Ticketmaster “on software that would allow us to use the social distancing mechanism of six feet that would allow us to stay safe.”

Stokan says he has been told the conferences are studying the impacts of players returning to workouts at college facilities, students returning to campuses and professional sports returning to competition. It may be difficult for the conferences to have as much information as is needed to make the decision by the end of July to have games in September.

Most professional sports initially returned without fans. NASCAR has allowed some fans in its recent races.

Stokan said it will be more expensive to stage the games “because everybody is going to have to wear a mask.” He said adding expenses while cutting revenue is “a bad way to run a budget.”

Stokan said the latest guidance from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp clears the way for fans to attend with proper social distancing – if the conferences and schools agree.

With no fans, the only option may be to stage the kickoff games on campus sites.

“We’d have to go back to the teams and say we financially can’t do this,” Stokan said.

Transfer portal costs Georgia a potentially significant contributor in the secondary in Divaad Wilson

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Some portal moves hurt more than others and, for Georgia football, this one definitely stings a little bit.  And potentially a lot.

Divaad Wilson took to Twitter on Monday to announce that he has decided to take his leave of the Georgia football program.  Or, at the very least, explore the NCAA transfer database before departing the Bulldogs.

“My time at The University of Georgia has been a wonderful experience,” the defensive back wrote. “Especially the fans, I love you guys and the atmosphere.

“But I have decided that parting ways with UGA so I can be closer to home during this time would be in [the] best interest for me.

“My Name Will Be Further Entered In The Transfer Portal — Divaad ‘Newt’ Wilson.”

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Wilson was a four-star member of the Georgia football Class of 2018.  The Miami native was rated as the No. 46 player regardless of position in the state of Florida.  He as also the No. 26 cornerback in the country.

Given his desire to be closer to home, the Miami Hurricanes could certainly be viewed as a potential landing spot.

A torn ACL suffered in the spring cost Wilson most of his entire true freshman season.  In 2019, Wilson started two of the 13 games in which he played.  Prior to entering the portal, he was thought of as being a prime candidate for a significant role in 2020.

This is the first player Georgia football has lost to the portal in over two months.  Conversely, they had a high-profile addition in USC quarterback JT Daniels earlier this month.