ATHENS — Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity says it’s too early to jump to any conclusions where the SEC football schedule is concerned.
McGarity, after hearing the news Thursday that the Big Ten will play conference games only, revealed the SEC has considered that possibility as well.
But, McGarity added, “We’ve looked at numerous scenarios, multiple scenarios for fall play.”
One scenario — if the SEC follows the Big Ten’s lead an eliminates non-conference games — would be to re-do the league schedule.
As things stand, both Georgia and Alabama are slated to play their first SEC game of the season against one another on Sept. 19 in Tuscaloosa.
“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.”
Per the UGA West Division schedule rotation, Arkansas (Athens, 2021) and Mississippi State (Starkville, 2022) would be the next two cross-division games. for the Bulldogs.
Georgia currently has its annual game with Auburn, along with the opener with the Tide, representing the West Division on the schedule.
Florida, which has Ole Miss (Oxford) and LSU (Gainesville) as its current crossover games, is next due to pick up Alabama (Gainesville, 2021) and Texas A&M (College Station, 2022).
The Big Ten has a 9-game schedule in football. The Big Ten said in its release that details of how its sports would move forward “would be released at a later date.”
An SEC spokesman confirmed to DawgNation that league commissioner Greg Sankey is standing pat on a timeline of expecting more clarity for the season’s plans by “late July.”
Sankey also issued a statement:
“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. 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.”
SEC teams will continue voluntary workouts leading into the 6-week practice schedule approved by the NCAA Division I council.
Georgia is scheduled to begin its supervised workouts two days later (July 15) than most teams on account of its current opening date of Monday, Sept. 7 against Virginia.
McGarity acknowledged the possibility Kirby Smart’s program could file a waiver to get relief from the later starting date on account of the uncertainty of games being played outside the conference in the wake of the Big Ten’s decision.
“What the Ivy League and Big Ten schools are doing will have an impact, but I don’t know what level of impact,” McGarity said. “I think the next two weeks are going to be really critical.”
McGarity said his optimism level has been lowered to“guarded” with recent COVID-19 trends working against college football starting its season on time.
“We continue to march forward in this new environment,” McGarity said, “but we can’t see the finish line right now.”
Further, the Georgia athletic director expressed hope the Bulldogs could find a way to preserve their rivalry game with Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have met annually since 1925.
“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.”
All of those rivalry games involve teams from the SEC and ACC and are played the final Saturday of the season (Nov. 28).
The fact some teams could enjoy a bye week before the SEC Championship Game while other teams are playing— as the league schedule currently stands — would seem to lend credence to McGarity’s speculation on a redrawn schedule.
Georgia football preseason stories
Current SEC composite schedule