The SEC and its 14 athletic directors held one of the more anticipated meetings since the beginning of the coronavrius pandemic. As the outlook of a college football season grows in uncertainty, a number of topics were discussed among the biggest decision makers in the country.
One of the topics of conversation was scheduling and what a potential schedule could look like in 2020. Sports Illustrated national writers Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde reported Wednesday evening that the SEC is currently considering three types of schedules if a full, 12-game schedule is counted out.
The three models the conference is considering include an all-conference schedule--a decision the Big Ten conference decided to move forward with last week--as well as a nine or 10-game schedule that would preserve at least one non-conference game. For LSU that last option would most likely include its highly anticipated matchup with Texas which is currently set for Sept. 12.
In an all-conference schedule, whether it be nine or 10 games, Dellenger and Forde report that the current eight games scheduled for each team would be kept and that each school would add one or two opponents from the opposite division. Here are LSU's eight scheduled SEC games in 2020.
- Sept. 26 vs. Ole Miss
- Oct. 10 @ Florida
- Oct. 17 @ Arkansas
- Oct. 24 vs Mississippi State
- Nov. 7 vs Alabama
- Nov. 14 vs South Carolina
- Nov. 21 @ Auburn
- Nov. 28 @ Texas A&M
If the conference does elect to go the all-conference route, then LSU would have to schedule one or two games--depending on if the season is nine or 10 games--with either Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt or Missouri. So the question becomes, which teams would LSU benefit from playing the most?
For starters, Georgia is an obvious answer as they enter with an interesting quarterback battle between transfers JT Daniels and Jamie Newman. The Tigers have played the Bulldogs in each of the past two seasons and have bested Kirby Smart and company 36-16 in Tiger Stadium in 2018 and then 37-10 in the SEC Championship last season.
A rematch between two likely top-15 opponents would be an added bonus to the schedule as both teams are littered with talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage and have equally intriguing quarterback situations.
Another interesting matchup for LSU would be Tennessee, a team coming off an 8-5 record under second-year coach Jeremy Pruitt. The Vols finished third in the SEC East in and capped off the season with a 23-22 win over Indiana in the Gator Bowl.
Tennessee returns redshirt senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who tossed for 2,158 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019 and feature a veteran squad led by senior offensive lineman Trey Smith, senior receiver Josh Palmer, junior offensive lineman Cade Mays and junior cornerback Bryce Thompson.
Georgia and Tennessee would not only be the two most entertaining battles for the Tigers not on the current SEC schedule, but also the most challenging.
With still two weeks until decisions will ultimately be made, some conference athletic directors find the idea of an all-conference schedule "laughable" according to Dellenger and Forde while others think it could be a viable option. The preferred option mentioned in the article is a nine or 10-game season that would allow each team to keep one non-conference game on its schedule.
Again, LSU would keep the matchup with Texas on its schedule in that scenario as a win would not only be a momentum boost, but an eye opening victory in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee.
There are challenges that are presented with an all-conference schedule, mainly the fact that travel to some destinations is longer than some of the non-conference rivalries that are in-state, like Florida-Florida State and South Carolina-Clemson. Then there are others within the conference that bring up the point that each conference--whether its the SEC, Big 12 or ACC--have differing testing protocols and regulations in place.
At the end of the day, there seems to be plenty of differing opinions and the conference is running out of time to come to an agreement.
“We’re fighting an enemy you can’t see or smell,” one administrator told SI. “There are crazy times.”