If Monday was a punch to SEC's gut, Tuesday was the roundhouse kick to the face ... so what now?
The hits just keep coming, and there’s not an end in sight.
Just throw that phrase on anything that happened in 2020 and I’m sure it’ll apply. That vacation you were gonna take? Sure. That wedding you were supposed to be at? Of course. That full weekend of SEC football and The Masters? Hey, that’s much too good for 2020.
We went from having 7 SEC games to 4 all in one day. Monday’s onslaught of negative COVID-related updates was followed by 2 more postponements. Auburn-Mississippi State, Texas A&M-Tennessee and Alabama-LSU were all pushed off because of COVID cases.
So for the 3rd time in 4 weeks, there will be just 4 games involving SEC teams. That is, assuming that those games aren’t postponed by the end of me typing this sentence.
**Checks Twitter … OK, we’re good!**
Sure, it was inevitable in 2020. It’s still a bummer to have canceled football games. I realize I’m preaching to the choir on that one. Well, unless you’re an LSU fan who probably treated Saturday’s postponement like the kid who’s getting bullied in school but finds out that there’s a snow day.
Perhaps we didn’t realize how inevitable it would be following this stretch of bye weeks and Halloween. What’s the phrase? Kids are gonna be kids? Oh well. I’m not here to point the finger at the problem. Instead, let’s point the finger at a possible solution.
For 2 of those postponed games, the solution is easy. Auburn-MSU and Texas A&M-Tennessee will both move to Dec. 12, which was the SEC’s built-in makeup date (shots fired at the Big Ten). The issue is that like the Big Ten, LSU is now in a position where it doesn’t have that makeup date available because that’s when it was supposed to make up the Florida game.
So does that mean Alabama-LSU is now canceled? Or is LSU-Florida canceled?
Read the end of the statement that the SEC released on Tuesday:
“Because LSU has a game tentatively scheduled for December 12, the opportunity to reschedule the Alabama at LSU game will need to be evaluated.”
As weird as it sounds, playing LSU could actually be meaningless for both Florida and Alabama. If both of those teams have their respective divisions wrapped up, that would be something the SEC would have to, as it said, “evaluate.” If one of those teams has the division clinched but the other one doesn’t, one would think that means LSU gets to play that team on Dec. 12.
Simple enough, right? Not exactly.
While LSU-Florida was technically on the Dec. 12 date first, it creates a scenario in which playing that game doesn’t make sense from the SEC’s standpoint if the divisions are both clinched. Creating a potential land mine for a Playoff team doesn’t create upside for the league. Canceling a game because it simply would have no bearing on the division race would be atypical, but in most ways, it would make sense.
Florida losing 1 more game and Georgia winning out would mean that the Gators would need to play on Dec. 12. Alabama still would have to lose twice in order for that game to carry division significance because the Crimson Tide have the head-to-head tiebreaker with Texas A&M.
Moving parts. I know. And they aren’t done moving. As of right now, these are the games scheduled for Dec. 12:
- LSU at Florida
- Vandy vs. Mizzou
- Texas A&M vs. Tennessee
- Auburn vs. MSU
For those games which wouldn’t impact the SEC winner, the league could actually take a page out of the Big Ten’s playbook. That is, schedule them all for that Saturday, Dec. 19.
From the SEC: “Because LSU has a game tentatively scheduled for December 12, the opportunity to reschedule the Alabama at LSU game will need to be evaluated. The rescheduling of games on the remaining SEC football schedule may include December 19 as a playing date.”
— Matt Baker (@MBakerTBTimes) November 10, 2020
Yes, that’s the same day as the SEC Championship. Keep in mind that the SEC Championship was moved to an 8 p.m. ET kickoff this year. With potential bowl implications and the whole “teams wanting to make up for lost revenue with a home game” thing, it makes sense to still play these games, which would still happen before the bowl schedule is announced on Dec. 20.
Would that be weird? Absolutely. Then again, it’s 2020. What isn’t weird anymore?
There are more creative solutions to this problem should it get any worse, but it involves major schedule shuffling.
This is an interesting idea that would involve — wait for it — moving the Iron Bowl. But no, it wouldn’t be moved to this weekend, which has reportedly already been ruled out (Auburn also shut down practices because of an outbreak):
How to save the SEC:
– Move Iron Bowl to 12/12 so LSU/Alabama meet 11/28
– A&M (scheduled 11/28 with LSU) plays Tennessee 11/28 to make up for this wknd
– Vandy plays Georgia instead of Tennessee 11/28
– UGA/South Carolina 12/12
– Vandy picks TN or Miz 12/12, other no contest
— Olivia Granaiola (@oliviagranaiola) November 10, 2020
Does your brain hurt? So does mine.
The thing to keep in mind is that while the SEC will likely put the emphasis on getting key division games played, teams want that home game revenue, even with a limited crowd.
If LSU doesn’t get to host Alabama and that game is canceled by the SEC with Alabama having already clinched the division, the Tigers have just 3 home games in 2020 (remember that the Mizzou game got moved to a road game because of a tropical storm). In a normal year in which LSU gets 7 home games, it reportedly nets $36 million from ticket sales. Now, with reduced capacity crowds, it gets 3 games with roughly $1 million in ticket revenue.
Yikes. Teams will get creative in the name of playing more football.
The question that looms is whether the Playoff has any sort of flexibility if teams like Clemson and Ohio State start to have games canceled that cannot be made up before Dec. 20. That’s what would really put the Playoff in a tough spot, which it’s already in with just 10 days post-announcement for each semifinal matchup (it’s usually a minimum of 3 weeks).
Things have already gotten weird. They’re about to get weirder.
The SEC is now in a position where it’ll keep its fingers crossed that this is the last weekend with multiple cancelations. No matter what, just don’t get too married to the remaining 2020 SEC slate.
If this week was any indication, it’s more of an idea than a plan set etched in stone.