HOOVER, Ala. -- If you haven't prepared your college football viewing schedule for the 2017 season yet, and are focusing on Labor Day Weekend to welcome college football back to the sporting world, you might want to look at a full schedule.
Things get cranked up a little sooner than normal.
Are those novelty games or signs of things to come?
The NCAA announced last month that it's examining the possibility of a standardized 14-week college football schedule that would, during most years, move opening weekend up one week. The exceptions would be when Labor Day itself fall on Sept. 1 or 2. In those cases, the schedule already is 14 weeks.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey addressed the possibility during his "State of the SEC" speech that opened up the 2017 edition of SEC Media Days on Monday afternoon.
"There's not opposition here to a 14-week season," Sankey said. "There's curiosity and interest."
The idea was discussed at the conference's spring meetings in May and June. During those discussions, coaches, administrators and presidents mutually agreed on what questions and concerns they have about accellerating the season.
"We don't want to see practice begin even earlier in the summer," Sankey said. "It moves back this year a few days because of the health and safety changes introduced. There's also an interest in keeping the number of preparatory practice opportunities. The number is 29 right now, and we'll do the math at the podium for you. Not all of our programs use those 29 opportunities, but all were clear that they wanted that flexibility if the situation dictated that that was appropriate to be used.
"We're open to those ideas. We're open to a 14-week season, but we want to be very careful about not moving the standard for football practice even earlier into the summer."
The football rules committee will meet in February to discuss the possibility further with one of its primary focuses being to ensure that the goals of the student athletes are met without putting them at risk both academically and from a health standpoint.
If camps get cranked up earlier, players could be finishing up summer semesters when things get started up and limit their opportunities to go home between semester breaks and take advantage of the few chances they get to unwind.
From the health standpoint, it's a double-edged sword.
An expanded season with two built-in bye weeks would put less strain on student-athletes during the season, but if it comes at the expense of a fall camp session that is condensed due to the stated goal of keeping the camp window relatively intact, is that really a net positive?
For the fans, though, it'd be great. And the SEC expressing interest -- rather than opposition -- to the idea could go a long way to potentially making it happen.
The slate of games on Aug. 26 will provide a nice little appetizer to the college football feast the following weekend. College football's decision-makers will decide over the next seven months whether it should become a full meal.