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
While expected, the SEC has confirmed that it will not punish a student-athlete who opts out of fall sports due to CIOVID-19 safety concerns. The only caveat? They must remaining in good standing with their respective teams.
Below is the Southeastern Conference’s press release on the development:
Southeastern Conference student-athletes who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team, the Conference announced Friday.
The action is the result of a unanimous vote of the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors following a recommendation of the Conference’s Athletics Directors.
“SEC universities are committed to full support of its student-athletes, whether or not a student-athlete decides to participate in sports during these uncertain times,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “SEC student-athletes have frequently expressed their desire to compete, but it is important for student-athletes and their families to know the financial support committed to them by their institutions will not be at risk because of health concerns presented by the current pandemic.”
The SEC will continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19 to determine at a later date if the policy should be extended to the Spring semester of 2021 or beyond.
The SEC is expected to make a decision on fall sports, including football, at the end of July.
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 15, 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?)
THE HEADLINE: Lincoln Riley: Jalen Hurts must win starting job at Oklahoma
THE SYNOPSIS: In a stunning turn of events, the Alabama transfer did just that. And finished second in the voting for the 2019 Heisman Trophy.
THE HEADLINE: Ryan Leaf joins ESPN’s roster of college football analysts
THE SYNOPSIS: This was the latest step in the former Washington State quarterback turning his life around. Less than a year later, however, Leaf was arrested on a domestic battery charge.
THE HEADLINE: Kentucky gets in on offering scholarship to middle schoolers in a big way
THE SYNOPSIS: I don’t care who does it, this is creepy. Still.
THE HEADLINE: USC to name starting QB two weeks before opener vs. Alabama
THE SYNOPSIS: Max Browne ultimately won the job… and held onto for all of three games. Sam Darnold took over in September of that season, and went on to be a high first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Browne, meanwhile, transferred to Pitt in December of 2016.
THE HEADLINE: Michigan’s Nike deal easily surpasses every other public FBS school
THE SYNOPSIS: That 11-year, $169 million deal was subsequently surpassed by UCLA’s 15-year, $280 million apparel agreement with Under Armour. That deal, though, is currently hanging by a thread.
THE HEADLINE: The best lines from Steve Spurrier’s SEC media day press conference
THE SYNOPSIS: Talkin’ season always brings out the best in the Ol’ Ball Coach. To wit: “It’s a shame that Texas and Texas A&M don’t play anymore. I think that’s sad. Florida plays Florida State. We play Clemson.”
THE HEADLINE: New records release shows Jim Tressel had history of compliance issues
THE SYNOPSIS: This wasn’t exactly a stunning development, given the circumstances that led up to the Sweatervest’s Memorial Day “resignation” at Ohio State two months prior. Or Pryor, as the NCAA case may be.
The Bednarik Award is the first major honor to release its watch list for the upcoming season. But it certainly won’t be the last. Far from it, actually.
In a release Monday, the Bednarik Award announced a 90-player strong watch list that represents every FBS conference in the country. The Bednarik Award has been presented annually since 1996 to the nation’s top player on the defensive side of the ball.
The ACC leads all conferences with 18 watch listers, with the Pac- 12 (13), SEC (11) and Big 12 (10) the only others in double digits. The Big Ten, the remaining Power Five, placed nine players.
Wit eight, Conference USA led all Group of Five leagues. Next up was the AAC’s six, followed by the Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference with five each and four for the MAC.
School-wise, reigning national champion LSU, Pitt and USC placed three players apiece. A handful of other schools put two players each on the watch list:
- Appalachian State
- Florida State
- Notre Dame
- San Diego State
- Virginia Tech
No finalists from a year ago remain as both the winner (Ohio State’s Chase Young) and the two runners-up (Auburn’s Derrick Brown, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons) have since moved on to the NFL. There are, though, three semifinalists for last year’s award that are back this season — Penn State’s Micah Parson, LSU’s Derek Stingley and Florida State’s Marvin Wilson.
For the complete Bednarik Award watch list, click HERE.
As expected, the SEC is going to wait as long as possible until making its next decision when it comes to the fate of football.
Last week, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey warned that “we are running out of time” when it comes to the 2020 college football season. That said, Sankey reiterated Monday that his conference will still wait to make any type of decision until the end of this month.
Below is Sankey’s statement on the current state of affairs, which came after an expected face-to-face meeting of the conference’s 14 athletic directors. The biggest takeaway? Sankey allowed that the current trend of COVID-19 positives across the country must begin trending downward in order for there to be a college football season in 2020.
We had a productive meeting on Monday and engaged in discussions on a number of important issues that will contribute to critical decisions to be made in the weeks ahead. The ability to personally interact over the course of an entire day contributed to the productivity of the meeting.
It is clear that current circumstances related to COVID-19 must improve and we will continue to closely monitor developments around the virus on a daily basis. In the coming weeks we will continue to meet regularly with campus leaders via videoconferences and gather relevant information while guided by medical advisors. We believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced they are going to a conference-only schedule for football. The ACC is in line with the SEC in making such a determination at the end of July. It’s expected the Big 12 will announce its next move around the same time as well.