SEC Athletic Directors met Monday in Birmingham to discuss what college football’s best conference would do with its 2020 schedule amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first big domino in College Football fell last week with the Big Ten cancelling it’s non-conference schedule for a conference only 2020 season. The Pac-12 quickly followed.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the SEC will wait until late July to decide what it’s schedule will look like this season.
Should the SEC follow suit and cancel the non-conference schedule? It might be inevitable. If the SEC chooses to do so, it should also team together with another Power 5 conference to create a cross-conference challenge and give college football fans the juice they crave.
The SEC vs ACC Challenge
Match the SEC’s 14 teams up against the ACC’s 14 teams for a huge opening weekend for college football’s first full cross conference challenge. Tell Sankey to Zoom-up ACC commish John Swofford!
(Notre Dame: decades of arrogance and greed leave you on the sidelines.)
We see this all the time in college basketball. The SEC has the Big 12 Challenge. The ACC has the Big Ten Challenge. This is the perfect year to do it… and here’s why.
Conference Covid-19 Control
One of the biggest reasons why the Big Ten and Pac-12 choose to only play conference games is for control. Each Power 5 conference can create its own COVID-19 protocols and testing procedures for its teams to follow. The Power 5 conferences have the resources for the best testing, compared to the smaller Group of 5 conferences, who make up the majority of non-conference schedules.
The SEC and ACC have all of the resources to create these protocols for their schools to match up against one another. If these two leagues feel comfortable playing league games, they should feel the same way playing against each other.
Similar Geographic Region
Limiting travel was another (smaller) reason for conferences axing their non-conference schedules.
The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference are similar enough in region that travel won’t be too much of an issue.
Current SEC vs ACC rivalries
There are four cross-conference rivalries that are played every year between these two leagues: Clemson vs South Carolina, Louisville vs Kentucky, Florida State vs Florida, and Georgia Tech vs Georgia. It’s been reported that these four SEC AD’s want to save these rivalry games.
4 SEC East Division teams (UF, UGA, UK, USC) “desperately” want to play their ACC state rivals along w/8 SEC league games in event of 9-game season this year. However, SEC has to figure out obstacle how to get other 10 SEC teams a Power 5 nonconference game, @MattHayesCFB reports
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 10, 2020
These four annual games can continue, while taking the other 10 teams from each side and creating unique matchups for fans to enjoy. Later, I’ll share my initial SEC vs ACC Challenge matchups.
When it should happen
The SEC vs ACC Challenge should take place on Saturday, September 26 to kick off the season. This gives the two conferences three extra weeks to prepare for Covid-19 protocols from the initial season opener (Sept. 5).
Both the SEC & ACC play 8-game conference schedules. Conference play could start October 3. There are nine combined Saturdays in October and November, allowing for eight conference games and one bye-week for each team. This keeps both leagues on pace to play their conference championship game on December 5.
ESPN/Disney TV Contracts
Both conferences have massive TV contracts with ESPN, making a huge day of 14 games more doable with the group of channels and time slots. Plus, now we’ve created more revenue for these two conferences in a year where limited (or zero) ticket sales occur.
Game time slots could be the typical 11am CT, 3pm CT, and 7pm CT. Four games per slot could air on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, and a simulcast on the SEC & ACC Network. That’s 12 of the 14 games. They could also kick off two of the games on Friday night with a double header, than the ACC is accustomed of doing. Remember, this would kick off the college football season, so having two openers on Friday night would be a big TV draw.
Potential SEC vs ACC matchups:
The four regular rivalries:
Clemson vs South Carolina
Louisville vs Kentucky
Florida State vs Florida
Georgia Tech vs Georgia
Potential other matchups:
Virginia Tech vs Alabama
- Classic old-school programs.
Virginia vs Auburn
- Both are blue & orange, and are the little brother program inside the state.
Miami vs LSU
- Lots of sex appeal and swag
Syracuse vs Texas A&M
- Don’t sleep on Dino Babers, Jimbo.
North Carolina vs Tennessee
- Classic border battle.
Duke vs Mississippi State
- Two really smart veteran offensive minds. One is more stable than the other.
NC State vs Arkansas
- Both are red.
Wake Forest vs Missouri
- Both are Black and Gold. Plus, Eli Drinkwitz just came from App State (near Wake).
Pitt vs Vanderbilt
- Both really hate Kevin Stallings.
Boston College vs Ole Miss
- Lane Kiffin vs Bostonians would be entertaining.
Let’s have Covid-19 produce something great in College Football.
Featured Image via Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports