SEC football now has a plan and a start time for the 2020 season.
The presidents of the 14 league members approved today the recommendation of the conference’s athletic directors a 10-game conference-only 2020 schedule, according to Ross Dellenger of SI.com citing sources.
The league approved kickoff date is Sept. 26 and the SEC title game has been moved to Dec. 19. The schedule will include one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools.
“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,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”
This action was taken following extensive discussions and thorough deliberation among the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors, Athletics Directors, Conference Office staff, and medical advisors, led by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.
“Today is an exciting day for all of us who love college football in the SEC.,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said. “The toughest conference in college football is going to battle it out in historic fashion. Tiger Stadium and our national championship football team will play host to five SEC opponents in a 10-game, all-SEC regular-season schedule.
“There is still a great deal of work to be done and many important decisions to be made, but this is a big step in the right direction for our conference, our school and our student-athletes.”
The decision to limit competition to conference-only opponents and rescheduling the SEC Championship Game is based on the need for maximum flexibility in making any necessary scheduling adjustments while reacting to developments around the pandemic and continued advice from medical professionals.
“We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” Sankey said. “It is regrettable that some of our traditional non-conference rivalries cannot take place in 2020 under this plan, but these are unique, and hopefully temporary, circumstances that call for unconventional measures.”
The SEC may have picked Sept. 26 for the start date because it is the first Saturday of the season in which the majority of the games scheduled are league contests, including LSU’s SEC opener against Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium.
It’s not clear yet how the the two additional games will be scheduled. One obvious solution is to stick with the league’s future non-division opponent rotating schedule, which the SEC already has in place.
If the league decides to add the next two scheduled non-division rotators on every member schedule, it would mean this season LSU would add Kentucky for a road game and have Tennessee play in Tiger Stadium.
But league athletic directors are also thinking about choosing the two additional opponents based on strength of schedule rather tamper with the previously scheduled 2021 and 2022 non-division rotators.
Currently, the SEC teams split into two seven-team divisions (Western and Eastern) play an eight-game schedule, which consists of six division games, one permanent non-division opponent and a rotating non-division opponent.