The 2020 SEC football schedule has gained two conference games and dropped all non-conference opponents due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to an announcement by the league on Thursday.
“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities 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,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”
Each SEC team will now play a 10-game schedule of SEC opponents only. The move eliminates all four non-conference games for each team, which includes the four traditional SEC-ACC rivalry games — Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Kentucky-Louisville, and South Carolina-Clemson.
As for the start date, the conference announced that the 2020 SEC football season will begin on Saturday, Sept. 26. That will be four weeks after some schools start in Week Zero (Aug. 29) and three weeks after Week 1 (Sept. 3-5).
“After careful consideration of the public health indicators in our region and following advice of our medical advisors, we have determined that this is the best course of action to prepare for a safe and healthy return to competition for SEC student-athletes, coaches and others associated with our sports programs,” said Sankey.
The 2020 SEC Football Championship Game has been pushed back two weeks and will now be played on Saturday, December 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. The 2020 SEC football schedule will also include one mid-season open date and an open date on December 12 for all 14 schools.
“We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” Sankey said. “It is regrettable that some of our traditional non-conference rivalries cannot take place in 2020 under this plan, but these are unique, and hopefully temporary, circumstances that call for unconventional measures.”
A revised SEC football schedule for the 2020 season will be released at a later date.
The conference did not announce the two extra SEC opponents for each team, but some pundits have suggested or speculated that it will be the next two rotating crossover opponents for each team. It’s also possible that the league will go back to the drawing board for this season only.