As the SEC approaches its self-imposed deadline for their decision on how the college football season will take place within its conference, according to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, the SEC is "moving closer" to an agreement to play on a conference-only, 10-game schedule.
"The SEC is moving closer to an agreement on a conference-only schedule of 10 games, multiple sources told Sports Illustrated," Dellenger writes. "During a virtual meeting on Wednesday, a majority of athletic directors approved the idea of an SEC-only, 10-game schedule. However, the schedule must be ratified by league presidents."
According to Dellenger, the conference-only schedule has not yet been mandated, however, SEC presidents are expected to meet virtually this week, it is however unclear whether or not the presidents will indeed vote this week, or delay the vote.
This report comes shortly after the ACC released its plan for the fall football schedule, which includes 11 games total, with one non-conference opponent.
"All non-conference game opponents, selected by the respective school, must be played in the home state of the ACC institution, and all non-conference opponents must meet the medical protocol requirements as agreed upon by the ACC," the ACC wrote in today's press release.
This means, should the SEC impose a conference-only schedule as Dellenger explained, it could impact the Florida Gators. Earlier this month, Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin explained why there were 'plenty of reasons' to play the Florida State Seminoles, that is if it can be played safely.
Under the ACC plan, the Gators would likely be the team FSU picks, however, if the SEC does not allow for non-conference play, it appears they'd have to go in a different direction.
“It makes a lot of sense for us to try and play FSU assuming we’re on the same page from a testing protocol standpoint and logistics can be worked out," said Stricklin. "Depending on where this thing ends up, it might be out of our hands, but I know that’s something that’s really important to us and I’ve talked to (FSU athletic director) David Coburn and he feels the same way. That’s a good game for the state."
Part of the SEC's plan when the athletic directors met in Birmingham (Ala.) earlier this month was to ensure that all 14 teams were on the same page in terms of testing, tracking and reporting protocols along with with with other objectives. Absent that, it would be difficult to envision a season operating as normally as possible as one program may have a protocol that could impact another.
Two other conferences have already imposed conference-only schedules, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.
Currently, the Gators are slated to play eight conference games. If the league is set to move towards conference-only play, adjusting to a 10-game schedule there will have to be several changes to account for the addition of the two extra conference games. This, of course, would impact their ability not only to play FSU, but also lower-division games, but still, maintain eligibility within the College Football Playoff, Dellenger states.
While this is all contingent on a vote between SEC presidents at some point prior to the season, there will likely be some sort of change within the conference as was seen today by the ACC.
Although the NCAA has the ability to enforce rules and regulations upon conferences, it has primarily been hands-off, allowing the conferences to come to their own decisions. This effect creates a set of issues, forcing the conferences to work independently of each other, rather than with each other to come up with the best plan for their individual conference, and their individual needs.
This, of course, can also result in a pseudo-back-and-forth fallout between conferences The timing of the individual conference announcements could not have been anymore intriguing.