3 big questions for SEC: What (schedule model), when (season start), who (opposing teams)
ATHENS — College football fans might have a mild case of whiplash after another news broke of yet another head-spinning decision on Wednesday night.
Notre Dame will join forced with the ACC this season as a league member, and the ACC will play a 10-game conference schedule with each team also playing one non-conference game in its home state.
The ACC will eliminate divisions, and the top two teams (by winning percentage) will meet in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 12 or Dec. 19.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced earlier this month they would play conference games only and appear headed for a 10-game schedule.
The SEC is next up on the clock, with league presidents scheduled to hold a Zoom conference call on Thursday.
Here are three big questions Georgia fans can’t wait to find out:
1. Schedule model
Will the SEC follow the ACC’s lead and play a 10-game league schedule plus one non-conference game?
Or, will the SEC play an 8-game league schedule plus one non-conference game? Maybe 8-game conference schedule plus two non-conference games, if 10 games becomes some sort of standard or sticking point?
It’s possible the SEC will still do it’s best to play a full schedule, as Sankey has said is his intention throughout the process. While that might still be under consideration, it doesn’t seem as likely as the two aforementioned scenarios.
2. Scheduled opponents
The SEC has seemed to lean toward trying to keep things as close to normal as possible throughout these most unusual of times.
If that is indeed the case, teams might stick to playing the league opponents they are already scheduled to compete against this season with slight game date adjustments.
It would also seem the SEC would be more inclined to continue to utilize the East and West Divisions in determining the SEC Championship game combatants.
The ACC, meanwhile, has abolished its divisions this season and will match the top two teams as determined by winning percentage.
A 10-game league schedule is more equitable than an 8-game conference schedule, in terms of the potential for disparity in the difficulty of schedules.
3. Start date, locations
Greg Sankey has mentioned the importance of flexibility in the schedule in the event a game — or games — need be postponed on account of a team sustaining a serious outbreak.
Oklahoma recently moved up its opening game to Aug. 29, two weeks before its scheduled second game against Tennessee.
Might the SEC take advantage of the blanket waiver issued by the NCAA and start its schedule on Aug. 29 to build in more flexibility, as well?
The league features two neutral site games, as well, with Texas A&M and Arkansas scheduled to play in Arlington, and Georgia and Florida scheduled to play in Jacksonville.
Ross Bjork, the Aggies AD, has said he would want the Aggies to play the Razorbacks in College Station and avoid the 184-mile trip to the neutral site. It’s Texas A&M’s year to be the designated home team. Arkansas is 353 miles from Arlington, Texas.
Georgia is the designated home team in its rivalry game with Florida, but to this point UGA officials seem fine with only playing three SEC home games and four road games plus the 340-mile trip to Jacksonville.
The Gators, of course, are fine with playing four home games in addition to the 70-mile trip to Jacksonville as the designated “road” team.
The SEC office may or may not intervene in the interest of ensuring equitable travel for student-athletes at each school amid the challenges of travel amid the COVID-19 crisis.
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