The ACC announced on Wednesday that it would play a conference only schedule, plus one non-conference opponent in the 2020 season.
The league announced that all 15 teams — Notre Dame included in the league — would play a 10 game conference schedule and would allow for one non-conference opponent as long as that game is played in the home state of the school. All 15 teams will play a 10 game schedule, starting the week of September 7-12, and must include at least two bye weeks. Additionally, the non-conference games have some criteria that need to be met before the games are played. The league stated that all non-conference games must be played in the ACC program’s home state and all non-conference opponents must meet the medical protocol requirements laid out by the ACC.
The “plus one” model would allow the ACC teams to preserve four huge in-state rivalries, including leaving open the possibility for Florida and Florida State to play in 2020. The two schools have played every year since 1958.
However, a report from Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger on Wednesday stated that the SEC is moving closer to a 10-game conference-only model. According to Dellenger’s report, the SEC Athletic Directors met virtually on Wednesday and, while the decision wasn’t unanimous, the league is “moving closer to an agreement on a conference-only schedule of 10 games.”
The Athletic Directors don’t make the final decision. That distinction goes to the 14 presidents of each institution, so nothing is set in stone.
Speaking with reporters on July 14th, Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin made it clear that; if possible, Florida was very motivated to include Florida State on any potential 2020 football schedule.
“If we’re able to get to the point where we play a game, when we get to that point I want to play that FSU game,” Stricklin said. “That’s really important to the state of Florida. I think it’s really important to both institutions. I’m hopeful we can find a way to play our schedule as normal as possible at that point, but that again is secondary to making sure we take the extra steps to enhance the safety for our athletes.”
Stricklin also noted that he and Florida State Athletic Director David Coburn had already discussed the matter and both were on the same page.
It’s becoming quite clear that the Power 5 conference aren’t all working in harmony. The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced nearly a month ago that they will play only conference games, and the ACC’s decision comes a few days before the SEC is expected to make an announcement regarding its season. One source tells Gator Country that an announcement on the SEC schedule is expected on Friday after the league Presidents meet virtually Thursday.
A change to a conference only schedule in the SEC would require some massaging. Right now the SEC plays eight conference games, six against your division opponents, one against a yearly cross-division rival, and one rotating cross-divisional opponent. Would the league simply add two more cross-divisional games to each schedule? Would they adopt something like the ACC did and do away with divisions for the year? That remains to be seen.
Given where the country is at with COVID-19, and with the scheduled start of the season inching closer every day it is imperative that decisions are made but there’s also a need for flexibility in an ever-changing environment.