It appears more and more conferences are going to end up following the Big Ten’s lead with regards to moving to conference-only games for the 2020 season. The Big Ten made the announcement on Thursday.
“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority,” the conference said in a statement.
“To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports.”
The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach and Stadium’s Brett McMurphy are reporting that other Power Five conferences are expected to do the same. Auerbach reported that the PAC-12 is expected to go to conference-only games in the coming days, meaning a game like Alabama-USC would be off the table.
McMurphy reported that the ACC is expected to play conference-only games. That has a far greater effect on the SEC and Georgia in particular, with Georgia set to play Virginia and Georgia Tech in the 2020 season.
The ACC announced earlier on Thursday that it would be postponing all Olympic fall sporting events until Sept. 1. The Georgia-Virginia game is tentatively set for Sept. 7 in Atlanta.
The SEC has not yet announced a decision on its plan with regards to moving to the conference only schedules for the upcoming season. Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk told reporters on Thursday that a decision from the SEC as regards to a conference only schedule would come at the end of July.
Sterk also floated the possibility of adding more games to the conference schedule, as SEC teams play only eight conference games compared to the nine-game slates that the Big Ten and Pac-12 play. ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach, there is “overwhelming support” support for a 10-game conference schedule for the Big Ten.
If the ACC does move to a conference-only schedule, it would have a significant impact on a number of SEC East teams, as Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky all play ACC teams in the final week of the regular season and all those are rivalry games. Georgia and Georgia Tech for instance, which would be canceled if the ACC does move to conference-only games, have played every year dating back to 1925.
If the SEC does move to conference-only games, it means Georgia would potentially open against Alabama on Sept. 19. But changes to the schedule could be made. Georgia’s eight SEC foes are Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Missouri.
At the moment, Georgia and every other college team is still in the voluntary workout stages of the offseason, with mandatory workouts being allowed to begin on July 13. Schools like Ohio State and North Carolina have paused those workouts in recent days due to an uptick in positive cases.
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