The COVID-19 pandemic has officially forced change on the 2020 college football season.
A day after the Ivy League announced the cancellation of fall sports, the Big Ten announced it would cancel all non-conference games and play only conference games in 2020.
It’s unknown whether or not the Big Ten will add more conference games to their additional nine, but it is clear they have likely set a trend for the rest of the nation.
Now, 247 Sports’ Brandon Marcello reports the SEC will discuss a conference-only schedule next week.
The SEC is not scheduled to discuss a plan to potentially move to conference-only games until next week, a person familiar with discussions in the conference office tells 247 Sports. That timeline may be accelerated after the Big Ten’s surprise announcement Thursday, but the plan is for athletics directors to discuss the logistics of a conference-only schedule next week.
Discussions will include an eight- to 10-game schedule in the SEC, though no final decision was expected to be reached at the meeting. The Big Ten’s decision, however, may change that. Publicly, the SEC remains steady with its plan to wait until late July or early August to make any decisions on the upcoming football season, which is threatened by the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Marcello added that the SEC may wait until the last possible moment to make a final decision, so don’t expect a final announcement until later this month or into August.
ESPN reporter Peter Burns says multiple SEC schools are still planning to have non-conference games.
While the SEC may eventually decide to go a similar route….I talked to multiple schools as early as this morning and they said they are still monitoring the situation and planned to continue as scheduled with non conference games. https://t.co/Xbxxv6fRRT
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) July 9, 2020
Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio made his best guess after the announcement, saying he believes the SEC will announce a 10-game conference-only schedule starting in mid-September, while the league would decide whether or not to go through with the season by August 1st.
Here is where I think we are headed
SEC will announce a 10 game Conference-Only schedule starting in mid-September
They will pray things get better before August 1, when they have to say “yes or no” to starting
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) July 9, 2020
If this were to come true, the Kentucky Wildcats would need to book at least two conference foes and shed games with Kent State, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Louisville.
We may get an idea of who those opponents would be based on the SEC schedule rotation for non-permanent cross-division games. In 2021, Kentucky is scheduled to play LSU in Lexington. Then in 2022, the Cats play at Ole Miss.
Perhaps those would be the two conference teams added for next season, then just have the rotation skip ahead to the next two SEC West teams Kentucky is slated to play in 2023 (vs. Alabama) and 2024 (at Arkansas) for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
So, if Kentucky keeps its current SEC matchups in place, here’s what a potential all-SEC schedule could look like for the Wildcats in 2020:
Of course, it Jones’ prediction of the season starting in mid-September holds up, then you just move every game/bye up 2-3 weeks. That could to their being less time between conference title games and bowl games, or the bowl season could be extended a few weeks and end.
Currently, the 2021 national title is slated to take place January 10th, 2021. So that and every other bowl could be moved back a few weeks.
Want to help save the 2020 college football season? Wear a mask.