This changes everything.
The decision by the Southeastern Conference to go with a 10-game, conference only schedule for 2020 came as somewhat of a shock Thursday since it came a day after the Atlantic Coast Conference announced an 11-game schedule that allowed for one interconference game. By including Notre Dame in its plan for 10 ACC games, the door was left open for the ACC and SEC to play their high profile, traditional rivalry games (Florida-Florida State, South Carolina-Clemson, Kentucky-Louisville and Georgia-Georgia Tech).
By choosing to go with a 10-game conference-only schedule, the SEC not only eliminated those rivalry games as well as a number of high profile interconference games such as Georgia-Virginia, LSU-Texas, Auburn-North Carolina, Arkansas-Notre Dame and Tennessee-Oklahoma. A 10+1 schedule like the one the ACC has committed to would have worked in collaboration with both the ACC and Big 12. The decision by the SEC to go conference-only probably means the ACC and Big 12 will work closely together to fill in the blanks of their schedules. BYU, which has no less than seven games of its schedule on the chopping block, will also have its phone ringing off the hook from ACC and Big 12 athletic directors.
The SEC, meanwhile, has to do some scrambling to add two conference games to the eight that were already on the agenda. The schedule has been backed up to September 26 which means there are only nine weeks remaining in what used to be the regular season. That, of course, means the final regular season game will be played on December 5. By scheduling the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta for December 19, the league has allowed the December 12 weekend to be available for makeup games should the corona virus cause postponements.
What makes the most sense is for the SEC to keep its existing conference dates from September 26 onward then reschedule SEC games from prior to opening week plus add two games based on open dates and the added December 5 weekend. Complicated? Yep.
Florida, for example, has to reschedule its SEC opener with Kentucky, on September 12. Since the Gators had Florida State scheduled on November 28 and Kentucky had Louisville, it’s very likely that game will be shifted to November 28. The Gators and Georgia both have an open date on October 24, the week before they play in Jacksonville. Whatever you hold sacred, bet that neither Florida AD Scott Stricklin or Georgia AD Greg Magarity will be willing to give up that open date. The Gators have an open date for November 21, which was supposed to be New Mexico State, and, of course, December 5. There is a juicy rumor that Florida will face Alabama and Texas A&M, but unless there is some major shift in the schedule, one of those two would be impossible. The Aggies and Alabama are scheduled on November 21. That would leave one of the two possible for December 5, but with Alabama starting the season either #2 or #3 and Florida likely to start in the top eight, would the SEC risk the possibility its best two teams would play on December 5 and then play again two weeks later in Atlanta?
And this is just Florida. There are 13 other SEC teams, all of whom have a December 5 open date as well as other open dates that have to be filled in the next several days. Here are the existing conference schedules for each team starting with the opening date of September 26 and adding the season finale on December 5:
ALABAMA: 9/26 Open; 10/3 at Ole Miss; 10/10 at Arkansas; 10/17 Mississippi State; 10/24 Mississippi State; 11/7 at Tennessee; 11/14 Open; 11/21 Texas A&M; 11/28 Auburn; 12/5 Open
Needs to reschedule: 9/19 Georgia
ARKANSAS: 9/26 vs. Texas A&M (Arlington, TX); 10/3 Open; 10/10 Alabama; 10/17 LSU; 10/24 Open; 10/31 Tennessee; 11/7 at Auburn; 11/14 Ole Miss; 11/21 Open; 11/28 vs. Missouri (Kansas City); 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/19 at Mississippi State
AUBURN: 9/26 Open; 10/3 Kentucky; 10/10 at Georgia; 10/17 Texas A&M; 10/24 Open; 10/31 at Mississippi State; 11/7 Arkansas; 11/14 Open; 11/21 LSU; 11/28 at Alabama; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/19 at Ole Miss
FLORIDA: 9/26 at Tennessee; 10/3 South Carolina; 10/10 LSU; 10/17 at Ole Miss; 10/24 Open; 10/31 vs. Georgia (Jacksonville); 11/7 at Vanderbilt; 11/14 Missouri; 11/21 Open; 11/28 Open; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/12 Kentucky
GEORGIA: 9/26 Open; 10/3 Vanderbilt; 10/10 Auburn; 10/17 at Missouri; 10/24 Open; 10/31 vs. Florida (Jacksonville); 11/7 at South Carolina; 11/14 Tennessee; 11/21 at Kentucky; 11/28 Open; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/12 at Alabama
KENTUCKY: 9/26 South Carolina; 10/3 at Auburn; 10/10 Open; 10/17 Vanderbilt; 10/24 at Missouri; 10/31 Open; 11/7 at Tennessee; 11/14 Mississippi State; 11/21 Georgia; 11/28 Open; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/12 at Florida
LSU: 9/26 Ole Miss; 10/3 Open; 10/10 at Florida; 10/17 at Arkansas; 10/24 Mississippi State; 10/31 Open; 11/7 Alabama; 11/14 South Carolina; 11/21 at Auburn; 11/28 at Texas A&M; 12/5 Open
MISSISSIPPI STATE: 9/26 Open; 10/3 Texas A&M; 10/10 Open; 10/17 at Alabama; 10/24 LSU; 10/31 Auburn; 11/7 Missouri; 11/14 at Kentucky; 11/26 at Ole Miss; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/19 Arkansas
MISSOURI: 9/26 Open; 10/3 at Tennessee; 10/10 Open; 10/17 Georgia; 10/24 Kentucky; 11/7 at Mississippi State; 11/14 at Florida; 11/21 Open; 11/28 vs. Arkansas (Kansas City); 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/12 Vanderbilt
OLE MISS: 9/26 at LSU 10/3 Alabama; 10/10 at Vanderbilt; 10/17 Florida; 10/24 Open; 10/31 Open; 11/7 at Texas A&M; 11/14 at Arkansas; 11/21 Open; 11/26 Mississippi State; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/19 Auburn
SOUTH CAROLINA: 9/26 at Kentucky; 10/3 at Florida; 10/10 Tennessee; 10/17 Open; 10/24 Texas A&M; 10/31 at Vanderbilt; 11/7 Georgia; 11/14 at LSU; 11/21 Open; 11/28 Open; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/19 Missouri
TENNESSEE: 9/26 Florida; 10/3 Missouri; 10/10 at South Carolina; 10/17 Open; 10/24 Alabama; 10/31 at Arkansas; 11/7 Kentucky; 11/14 at Georgia; 11/21 Open; 11/28 at Vanderbilt; 12/5 Open
TEXAS A&M: 9/26 vs. Arkansas (Arlington, TX); 10/3 at Mississippi State; 10/10 Open; 10/17 at Auburn; 10/24 at South Carolina; 10/31 Open; 11/7 Ole Miss; 11/14 Vanderbilt; 11/21 at Alabama; 11/28 at LSU; 12/5 Open
VANDERBILT: 9/26 Open; 10/3 at Georgia; 10/10 Ole Miss; 10/17 at Kentucky; 10/24 Open; 10/31 South Carolina; 11/7 Florida; 11/14 at Texas A&M; 11/21 Open; 11/28 Tennessee; 12/5 Open
Need to reschedule: 9/12 at Missouri