20 thoughts on how Big Ten conference-only schedule does and doesn’t impact Georgia football
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How the Big Ten’s Decision does and doesn’t impact Georgia football
- On Thursday, the Big Ten announced it would be moving to a conference-only format for the 2020 season. This means mammoth games like Ohio State-Oregon, Washington-Michigan and Wisconsin-Notre Dame are now off the schedule. From a wider college football fan perspective, this is a bummer. Notre Dame-Wisconsin at Lambeau Field is something fans have been waiting to see for a while. But it’s also a reality we know have to live with as COVID-19 cases, the positive test rate and deaths continue to climb. After the Ivy League’s decision to cancel fall sports on Wednesday, it was only a matter of time before this type of decision trickled up to the Power Five level.
- As for how that directly impacts the SEC, it doesn’t at the moment. The SEC and Big Ten had zero non-conference games scheduled for the 2020 season. So for the moment, the SEC hasn’t had to cancel any games yet.
- But it might not stay that way for long. According to multiple reports, both the PAC-12 and the ACC are mulling decisions to also move to conference-only schedules for this season. The Atheltic’s Nicole Auerbach reported that the PAC-12 is expected to make an announcement in the coming days.
- The ACC’s decision is much more fluid, with conflicting reports about what is set to happen. Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported that while no official decision has been made, it is a likely outcome. The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna reported that the conference is not yet ready to make the decision to move to conference-only games. The ACC did announce on Thursday that it would be postponing all fall Olympic sports until Sept. 1.
- As for what the SEC said on the matter, it maintained it is sticking to a late July timeline. “The Southeastern Conference will continue to meet regularly with our campus leaders in the coming weeks, guided by medical advisors, to make the important decisions necessary to determine the best path forward related to the SEC fall sports,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “We recognize the challenges ahead and know the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans must remain at the forefront of those decisions.”
- The PAC-12 going to conference-only games means no more Alabama-USC and Texas A&M-Colorado, but those would be the only two games impacted with regards to the SEC.
- The ACC potentially going to conference-only games is an entirely different can of worms. It would impact games on the front and back end of the season. Georgia’s game against Virginia and Auburn’s contest against North Carolina would be removed from the schedule.
- But more importantly are the games at the back end of the season, as Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky all play ACC teams during the final week of the regular season. All of those contests are rivalry ones as well, with state bragging rights on the line.
- For Georgia, it’s the Georgia Tech game. The two sides have met every year dating back to 1925. Georgia Tech isn’t the biggest rival Georgia plays every year, and when Paul Johnson was running the triple option and doing Paul Johnson-type things, there were some who probably didn’t want to see the Yellow Jackets on the schedule.
- But as Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation’s Mike Griffith that the hope is to keep those rivalry games. “It would be great to try to preserve games like that,” McGarity said. “I’m sure Florida feels that way about Florida State, then you have Kentucky and Louisville and Clemson and South Carolina.”
- If the SEC is forced to go to a conference-game only slate, expect some changes to come to the schedule. For one, conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 play nine conference games compared to eight for the SEC. With the lost revenue that comes from those non-conference games, conferences could look to add more conference games to recoup some of that money. According to ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach, there is “overwhelming support” for going to 10 games.
- For the SEC, let’s entertain a world where it does go to conference-only games. That means no Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and the money that comes with that against Virginia. It means no game against UL-Monroe, which Georgia is paying $1.75 million to play on Sept. 26 at the moment.
- It also means that Georgia would tentatively open the season on the road against Alabama. But don’t put too much stock in the way Georgia’s SEC schedule is currently slated. “I’m just guessing that you would see a totally different schedule (in that conference-only scenario),” McGarity told DawgNation. “Right now, we’re playing eight league games. Will it be 10? I don’t think we really know right now.”
- Georgia’s SEC East foes are Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky. Those will obviously stay the same. Where the extra games in a possible 10 game season come from would be the SEC West. Georgia has Alabama and Auburn scheduled for the 2020 season. In 2021, Arkansas visits Athens, and in 2022 Georgia travels to Mississippi State. Could the SEC move those contests up to accommodate a 10-game conference slate? It’s still too early to say as the SEC eyes a late July decision when it comes to the 2020 schedule.
- Where it does get tricky though is in figuring out how to do a 10-game conference schedule while also maintaining the Georgia Tech game for Georgia. Do the other SEC teams go to an 11-game schedule, with one non-conference game and 10 SEC games? How does that impact the rest of college football with regards to the College Football Playoff?
- A lot of these questions could be answered by the NCAA. But the NCAA has a hands-off approach when it comes to governing football. It’s why it doesn’t actually crown a champion at the FBS level. And releases statements like it did on Thursday as the sport was fracturing. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact college sports nationally, the NCAA supports its members as they make important decisions based on their specific circumstances and in the best interest of college athletes’ health and well-being,” the organization said in a statement.
- The Big Ten’s decision is only the start. More and more colleges and conferences will have to make similar decisions in the coming weeks about how to reshape their schedules. And given things aren’t getting better when it comes to slowing the spread of the virus, it’s looking like more and more conferences will have to make choices like the Big Ten did on Thursday.
- Maybe that eventually means a spring season. There’s a reason Sankey and McGarity have continued to reinforce the idea that there are a number of contingency plans for the 2020 season. The changes and tweaks to the 2020 schedule have only just begun and it would be a rather large surprise if the Big Ten ended up being the only conference to make drastic changes to the schedule.
- No one wants a canceled season. No one wants to see games wiped off the schedule. But that is the reality the sport is now facing as the country continues to fail to slow the spread of COVID-19. And unlike the NBA, NFL and even MLB, there isn’t a strong central leadership in college football and college athletics. It’s a collection of states and individual schools instead of a unified group. That’s why there were some coaches and conferences that were upset about the Big Ten going ahead and making the announcement.
- To reinforce everything with regards to Georgia, expect a decision to come in late July. That much is known at this point given everything those in power have said. But it’s hard not to imagine it looking like the Big Ten’s given the current state of the country when it comes to COVID-19.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- SEC schedule could be redrawn, commissioner Greg Sankey sticking to ‘late July’ timeline
- Georgia football podcast: Lots to like about new UGA LB commit Jamon Dumas-Johnson
- ACC, PAC-12 to reportedly expected to join Big Ten in moving to conference-only schedule
- Georgia football would open at Alabama if SEC follows Big Ten’s expected action
- Big Ten to move to conference-only schedule for 2020 season, SEC athletic director says decision could come by end of July
- Kirby Smart likens Georgia football recruiting to Chick-fil-A
- 3 takeaways from Kirby Smart’s breakdown of new Georgia QB Jamie Newman
- Kirby Smart explains how George Pickens has improved and why he needs more help
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