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New 2020 SEC schedule: delayed season start, conference-only games

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Another Power Five conference changes course, as a revised 2020 SEC schedule eliminates nonconference play and calls for a season launch on September 26.

The SEC joins the Big Ten and the Pac-12 in eliminating conference play, while the ACC added Notre Dame to the 2020 conference mix and cut down nonconference play to a single game (though, with the SEC move, may end up axing that one nonconference game as well). The SEC Football Championship Game will be played Dec. 19 at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, rescheduled from the original date of December 5. The 2020 SEC schedule will include one midseason open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools.

“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 in a press statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

Cited as a key reason for the change: the need for flexibility both at the beginning of the SEC season and at the end. In the sports world, everything is seemingly improvised, and the attitude toward scheduling in the Power Five has gone from an early start and an early finish (to avoid a potential Thanksgiving second wave) to a late start and a late finish.

“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.”

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