Closer look: SEC cross-division schedules finally released on SEC Network
ATHENS — The SEC made its long-awaited announcement on the league’s scheduled opponents for this season on the SEC Network on Friday evening.
The schedule comes eight days after the league sent shockwaves throughout the collegiate football landscape by announcing a 10-game, conference-only schedule model.
Georgia, which in addition to its six East Division opponents has games with West Division powerhouses Alabama (road) and Auburn (home), added a home game with Mississippi State and a road game with Arkansas.
The Razorbacks and the Maroon Bulldogs were the next two teams on UGA’s cross-division rotation in 2021 and 2022.
The twist is that Georgia will flip the venues from the games with those programs that tentatively remain scheduled for 2021 and 2022.
“We made every effort to create a schedule that is as competitive as possible and builds on the existing eight Conference games that had already been scheduled for 2020,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “This schedule is a one-year anomaly that we have developed under unique circumstances presented by the impact of COVID-19.”
Added Friday: Arkansas (H), at Texas A&M;
Already on schedule: LSU (H), at Ole Miss
Added Friday: at Arkansas, Miss. State (H);
Already on schedule: at Alabama, Auburn (H).
Added Friday: at Alabama, Ole Miss (H);
Already on schedule: at Auburn, Mississippi State (H).
Added Friday: at LSU, Alabama (H);
Already on Schedule: Arkansas (H), at Mississippi State.
Added Friday: Auburn (H), at Ole Miss;
Already on schedule: Texas A&M (H), at LSU
Added Friday: at Auburn, Texas A&M (H);
Already on schedule: Alabama (H), at Arkansas.
Added Friday: LSU (H), at Mississippi State;
Already on schedule: Ole Miss (H), at Texas A&M.
Added Friday: At Missouri, Kentucky (H);
Already on schedule: Georgia (H), at Tennessee.
Added Friday: Georgia (H), at Florida;
Already on schedule: Tennessee (H), at Missouri.
Added Friday: at South Carolina, Tennessee (H);
Already on schedule: Kentucky (H), at Georgia.
Added Friday: at Vanderbilt, Missouri (H);
Already on schedule: at Florida, South Carolina (H).
Added Friday: Vanderbilt (H), at Georgia;
Already on schedule: Missouri (H), at Kentucky.
Added Friday: South Carolina (H), at Kentucky;
Already on schedule: at Vanderbilt, Florida (H).
Added Friday: Florida (H), at Tennessee;
Already on schedule: at South Carolina, Vanderbilt (H);.
The SEC has yet to announce the order or dates of the season schedule.
The league opens the season on Sept. 26 and will have two off weeks between then and the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19.
That’s different than the Big Ten schedule, which features teams starting their seasons on Sept. 3 and teams having three bye weeks each before the Big Ten title game on Dec. 5.
The reactions to Friday’s schedule reveal was mixed among many schools.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation that he’s not aware of any athletic directors or schools that lobbied with an intent to influence their schedules.
McGarity said the league ADs voted on the 10-game conference-only schedule without knowing who each team’s added opponents would be.
“There was not an intent to go there first,” McGarity said, “because it might have swayed some decision making if we knew who we were going to play.”
It was a best-case scenario for Georgia on Friday afternoon.
Other league models included the Pac-12 and Big Ten also opting for conference-only schedules.
The Big 12 and ACC are playing nine conference game plus one non-conference game.
The ACC, additionally, added Notre Dame as a league member for this season.
SEC executive associate commissioner Mark Womack was charged with creating the SEC’s new schedule, according to Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk.
Sterk suggested the SEC opted to start the season later because other students will soon be returning to campuses.
“Campuses will start to fill up starting middle of August and if there are outbreaks then it gives an opportunity to settle those down and get under better control,” Sterk said.
“That’s the advice we received is to give that an opportunity to play itself out and then start the season fresh September 26th.”
The SEC Championship Game has been scheduled for Dec. 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, two weeks after its original slot.
The league broke out the modified schedule amid the unprecedented times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most SEC football teams weren’t able to conduct spring football drills on account of collegiate sports coming to a standstill on March 12, when the NCAA basketball was brought to a halt.
The coronavirus spread led to the cancellation of spring sports, leading the NCAA to make concessions for spring sports athletes to be granted another year of eligibility.
Georgia football, along with the rest of the SEC programs, returned to campus some two months ago to begin voluntary workouts on June 8.
The NCAA issued a six-week schedule that enabled the football coaching staffs to begin to oversee workouts in mid-July.
Teams are currently in a walk-through stage that allows them to use a football for one hour of each day’s workouts amid their prescribed 20-hour workout weeks.
The SEC is re-evaluating how it wants its programs to proceed with the start of fall practices, now that the start of the season has been moved back to Sept. 26.
Most teams were originally slated to kick off the season on Sept. 5, Georgia the previous exception with a since-canceled Sept. 7 Monday night game against Virginia.
Interesting enough, the Georgia DawgNation fans correctly predicted who the Bulldogs would get:
Less than one hour before schedule release. #Georgia already plays Alabama and Auburn from the West. Which WEST rotational combo is most likely to be added …
— MikeGriffith32 (@MikeGriffith32) August 7, 2020