Like the conferences before them, the SEC has decided to condense its schedule to have a slightly modified plan to move forward this season. The solution: keep it all in-house, and only play teams within the conference.
Other conferences like the ACC and Pac-12 have said that they’ll only be playing each other this season. On the other hand, the Big Ten informed its members that a 2020 college football season might not even be played.
College Football vs. The World
College football is unique because it doesn’t have rules dictated by the NCAA. College football is free to make its own decisions.
“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities. The plan is geared to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”
While this certainly isn’t what anyone was hoping for, perhaps this is a chance for the SEC to experiment with what life would look like if Power-5 conferences only played each other.
“People have been clamoring to increase the number of conference games, so I thought perhaps there would be great celebration at that reality, right? But it is a recognition that we are in a very different environment and the importance of the Southeastern Conference championship was primary for us,” Sankey said on The Paul Finebaum Show.
“We have great respect for the rivalries that exist across the conference but we don’t know what the fall is going to look like and having the ability to manage our own schedule we believe gives us the best opportunity to play for that championship, to have our division winners, which is our tradition, and then to have a conference champ game a few weeks later than originally planned.”
SEC Rivalry Games
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork believes the SEC’s talk around the rivalry games was tough because those games mean so much to a handful of dominant teams around the conference.
“They obviously had to stand up for that, and believe in that,” said Bjork, “and it just came down to the shortened window of the season, and how do you get in as many games in as possible, knowing that you need to start later, and it just came down to a calendar issue where we’re basically playing 10 games over a 12-week period, and there just wasn’t room in order to give everyone the best chance to play as many games as possible. Those programs, they stood their ground and it was a great conversation. It just didn’t fit.”
A lot of what gets lost in the out-of-conference games is how smaller schools wind up losing money by missing out on a a game against an SEC school. Louisiana-Monroe, which lost games against Arkansas and Georgia, will lose a total of $3.2 million from an already-thin $15.5 million budget.
“It is certainly recoverable, but it’s significant,” McDonald said. “It’s material. It’s like in your household if you suffered a cut in about 20% of income, you’d have to make some decisions. Is it significant? Yes, but we certainly will continue on if we have to make those adjustments.”
The little guy usually gets crushed in these dealings against big conferences like the SEC. However, the pandemic has undoubtedly brought out some of the uglier sides of the business. We’re all seeing it with our own eyes now.