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SEC’s New COVID Schedule: Implications

This’ll be weird.

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Earlier this afternoon, the SEC announced that they were going to follow the lead of other Power Five leagues around the country and alter the college football schedule.

While the Big Ten, PAC-12, and ACC had already made decisions on their respective conference slates due to the impact of the coronavirus, the SEC had held off in announcing anything. Today, we learned that the following will be true:

  • 10-game conference schedule
  • Season pushed back to begin September 26th
  • SEC Championship Game pushed back to December 19th in Atlanta
  • Each team will play two additional cross-divisional opponents
  • No non-conference games will be played

For Auburn specifically, that means we won’t be playing the marquee non-con game on the Tigers’ schedule, which was supposed to come against North Carolina in Atlanta. We also won’t be getting three home games against relative cupcakes, which will have financial impacts to the athletic department income.

While Auburn won’t likely face any consequences for missing these games, due to the SEC’s overarching announcement on the reshuffling schedule, and also force majeure clauses in the respective contracts.

This year, Auburn was set to play the following conference opponents in this order:

  • @ Ole Miss
  • vs Kentucky
  • @ Georgia
  • vs Texas A&M
  • @ Mississippi State
  • vs Arkansas
  • vs LSU
  • @ Alabama

Now, it’s being surmised that Auburn will add two East division opponents, and conventional wisdom says that the Tigers will get South Carolina and Missouri. The biggest question comes in the form of how the schedule gets laid out for each team. With the addition of two new opponents for everyone, the conference is going to have to spin the wheel and come up with a new schedule altogether.

In other areas of the country, the ACC has decided to abolish divisions for this season, and their championship game will be played between the top two teams in the conference in terms of winning percentage. It’s the same way the Big 12 has conducted its championship game selection over the past few seasons, and it results in a game between the two best teams. Of course, not everything will be equal in the SEC.

Some teams will add tougher games. Some teams will add easier games.

As you can see, Auburn’s additions really aren’t that tough when you consider other teams. Of course, Auburn already plays Alabama, Georgia, and LSU every single year, but South Carolina/Missouri’s a pretty easy add. When you look at Florida, however, the Gators didn’t have any favors done for them getting Alabama and A&M, in addition to their schedule that already features Georgia and LSU every year.

We also have no idea when certain games will be played. I’m sure the SEC will do everything in its power to push rivalry games to their normal points in the schedule, but it’ll still be weird.

Including the new Opening Weekend of September 26th, there are ten Saturdays leading up to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which is normally Rivalry Weekend. We don’t know how many bye weeks teams will get, but if they offer two, then everyone can play on September 26th, have two byes, and the final weekend of the regular season comes on December 12th. Then the Championship Game one week later like it is now.

We’ve still heard nothing on what happens with bowl games or the College Football Playoff, so who knows if this season turns out like the vast wasteland of the 1930s, which allowed Alabama to claim so many cantankerous fake national titles. If we don’t get a postseason, you could end up with multiple national champs if the voters do what they want.

It was going to be a weird year already, and now we could see something weird like the Iron Bowl in October, or even an Iron Bowl rematch in Atlanta. You could very well see two divisional foes meet in a rematch in the SEC Championship. There are going to be some first time occurrences in 2020, so get ready.