All eyes are now on the Southeastern Conference.
With the Atlantic Coast Conference announcing its 11-game football schedule on Wednesday, three of the Power 5 conferences have now established 2020 plans.
The SEC should be the next domino to fall.
The league’s 14 presidents and chancellors are meeting from afar today to discuss football scheduling options. The 10-game conference-only schedule has traction behind it, as Sports Illustrated reported on Wednesday, though nothing can be finalized until the presidential vote. League presidents are not required to make any major decisions on Thursday; In fact, the conclusion may be to kick the decision up to a week earlier to weigh more information. However, there was a growing feeling around the league that some decisions should come by the end of the week.
Will it be a 10-game conference-only schedule?
Speaking to sources around the SEC on Wednesday, no one was ready to fully rule out the SEC adopting a 10 + 1 hybrid scheduling approach like the ACC that would make each SEC school a non-conference game. The former division of the SEC has at least a few schools that want to see what it will take to maintain the state’s rivalry game with ACC schools.
Along those lines, it represents schools that have significant rivalry games, taking into account both the president of the SEC (Dr. Eli Capilto of Kentucky) and the vice president (Jere Morehead of Georgia).
AL.com first reported on July 9 that the sentiment around the SEC would end after the Big Ten’s conference-only path. Sources around the league had upset the Big Ten that he made the call so early and realized that he put the SEC in a corner to follow suit. The conference now has weeks to debate the best option, building a nearly 10-game conference-only schedule, with consensus among ADs, not consensus.
According to sources, if the SEC goes to a 10-game conference-only approach, the schools already have a good understanding of additional conference opponents. There is still time to adjust, but the expectation is that in that scenario, the conference will maintain its division and add two cross-divisional opponents to each school’s schedule.
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Why a conference-only approach?
There are several reasons why a conference-only schedule means a lot to SEC leaders. Most importantly, it allows the convention to control all primary factors. The league can establish uniform protocols, particularly around COVID-19 testing, which all schools must follow. There will be some standardized protocols between Power 5 conferences, but there can be differences in policies from conference to conference.
Next, if a game must be canceled or postponed, which most insiders see as likely to happen at some point, it is easy to coordinate all the effects of that conference with another conference. We have already seen how much FBS conferences struggle to get on the same page in the rollout of these scheduling plans. Eliminating that aspect would give the SEC much greater flexibility and far fewer potential headaches.
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What is the President considering when making decisions?
SEC presidents and vice chancellors receive recommendations from their athletic directors, but the decision ultimately falls on them. Some will do what their ADs ask them to do; Others will go rogue. Think of it this way: the farther you move from the football field, the more thoughts can change. A football coach only has to worry about the football team. An athletic director has to worry about every team. The president of a university has to worry about everything on campus. Just because ADs are bent in a way does not mean that the president will do so.
The SEC said that for weeks the sentiment around the SEC has been that of its leaders, who will do everything possible in the falling football season. Coronovirus, of course, significantly affects that decision when considering whether it would be safe to do so. It is also worth noting that any decision that the Speaker can make is still subject to change. Locating the scheduling model is a major step, but there will be more hurdles to successfully overcome the 2020 fall season.
I recently joined the SEC Chairman Dr. Capilto had asked that he and his companions take further notice of this decision. As part of his reply, Capillout stated, “Will we have our infrastructure and responses ready? Will we have adequate prevention interventions in place? Those are the things that I will look out for all our universities and the communities in which we live. “
What are the implications of the SEC decision?
If the SEC moves to a conference-only approach, it may force ACC and the Big 12 to follow. If there is no chance for a rivalry game in a state like Florida-Florida State, the ACC may drop its non-conference plan. According to the Big 12 report, one would like to have a non-conference aspect, although it would lose marquee games like Texas-LSU and Oklahoma-Tennessee. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bolsby has told several reporters that not everyone at the Power 5 conferences needs the same plan, but they should be consistent. Would it really be worth it for the Big 12 to be the only Power 5 conference to try to play 12 games? to be determined.
It will also affect a group of 5 conferences that typically receive large salaries from SEC schools. For example, Alabama has been contracted to pay Georgia State, Kent State and Tennessee-Martin $ 3.55 million this season for a trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium. All of those games will be off the table and those sporting contracts can trigger a great deal of force. Groups of 5 conferences are waiting to see what the Power 5 ones decide first, but they may have no choice but to follow along as they schedule all their big non-conference games. Be erased from.
The SEC’s decision will not only directly affect many sports, but has the potential to shift plans for multiple conferences.
John Talley is the sports editor and SEC Insider for the Alabama Media Group. You can follow her on Twitter @JTalty.