BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The Southeastern Conference will play only league games in 2020, a decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths.
The plan was confirmed Thursday by a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an official announcement from the conference was still being prepared.
The SEC's university presidents agreed on a 10-game schedule that eliminates all non-conference opponents and is set to begin Sept. 26, the person said. The SEC championship game, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, will be pushed back to Dec. 19.
University of Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne released the following statement:
"We've continued to stay optimistic about having a fall season, and today's decision to move to a 10-game, conference-only schedule provides us with an opportunity to still compete and move our program forward in the safest way possible. The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans has always been at the forefront of our decision making, and we are thankful to now have plans in place that allow us to move forward. We appreciate the hard work of Commissioner Sankey and the SEC staff as well as everyone involved across our 14 campuses to make these collective decisions together."
The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced their intentions to play only conference games earlier this month, but the Atlantic Coast Conference this week announced a reworked 11-game schedule that left room for one non-conference game.
Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban, had this to say:
"We are pleased to have a plan in place for the Southeastern Conference this season. We believe it is the best option to keep players and staff safe and still maintain the integrity of the season. The safety of our team will be our highest priority throughout the season, but we are also excited that our players will have the opportunity to compete and play this season. I want to thank the leadership from our administration, our medical staff, the SEC and all of the medical experts that are guiding us through this process."
The ACC wanted to allow four of its schools to maintain in-state rivalry games with SEC schools, but now Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville have been canceled.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have yet to reveal their schedules but both could come as soon as Friday. Big 12 officials were holding out hope its 10 members would be able to play non-conference games, but options are dwindling. The SEC's decision cancels LSU's home game against Texas and Tennessee's scheduled trip to Oklahoma in September.