On the same day the ACC announced that its football teams will play an 11-game season including a 10-game conference schedule and one nonconference game, the SEC reportedly took a step toward finding its own path forward to play college football this fall. The league is "moving closer" to playing a 10-game conference only slate for the 2020 season, according to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellinger.
Reached for comment by multiple outlets, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey declined to address whether a conference-only schedule was indeed the league's leader in the clubhouse at this time. "It is not appropriate to respond to anonymous sources and speculation," he said. "We continue to our discussions focused on the return of fall sports, including football. We will announce any decisions at the appropriate time."
A conference-only SEC schedule might make the ACC's plans to play one nonconference game -- required to be played in the home state of its member schools -- less attractive, considering that several of the ACC's marquee nonconference games are scheduled to be played against SEC schools: Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Kentucky-Louisville.
"It was something that was given very strong consideration in our move to go to the 11-game [schedule]," Miami athletic director Blake James said of rivalry games.
However, the SEC's scheduling idea was only approved by a majority of the league's athletic directors, according to Dellenger, and it may have come before the conference knew that the ACC had indeed decided to open the possibility of playing nonconference games. SEC presidents are scheduled to discuss the matter Thursday and could vote on a schedule or push off a decision to next week.
Sankey has publicly stated a target date of late July for the league to settle on a structure to the 2020 season. That would give the SEC until the end of the week to reach a decision. Settling on a 10-game conference-only schedule would mirror a plan reportedly being finalized by the Pac-12.
For the Power Five conferences, getting a plan for football together this week could be critical to the practicality of a 2020 season as the NCAA Board of Governors is set to meet on Aug. 4. At that time, it could vote to call off its fall championships.
While that would not affect the FBS or College Football Playoff, eliminating fall championships would leave the sport on a figurative island as such a decision would eliminate the postseasons for the FCS, Division II and Division III football, among other sports.