The South Carolina football team, along with the other 13 SEC institutions, received a little more clarity on when a decision will be made regarding the start of the 2020 season.
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey appeared on The Rich Eisen Show Monday to discuss what the 2020 college football season might look like, at least as it pertains to the SEC.
As of now, the start date remains the same though conference administration is monitoring the situation daily. Football players across the nation were able to return to campus this month, which has resulted in a few isolated COVID-19 outbreaks. Most recently, the LSU Tigers had upwards of 30 players in quarantine after returning to Baton Rouge.
Still, the conference and individual schools are taking steps to ensure the safety of players and stop the spread of the virus as much as possible.
With uncertainty surrounding the sport as it relates to the pandemic, Commissioner Sankey has given fans a timeline to follow as they look for an answer to one daunting question: Will we have college football this Fall?
Here’s what Sankey had to say:
“I think that’s probably a late-July time period. My thinking has shifted a bit. We started June 8 after a two-week oversight, diagnostic medical exam period for these voluntary activities. We’ll have three or four weeks — on the 13th of July is when a little bit more practice can begin. I think we deserve the chance to see how that progresses. I would say before we get into full-blown practice, you’re going to be in that decision-making process as it relates to what happens on Labor Day weekend, which is the scheduled start of the season.”
So, it looks as if schools will continue to conduct their summer activities, which is a good sign for those hoping that the season starts on time, and the conference will come to a firmer decision as things play out over the next month.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Even if the SEC does choose to move forward with the September 5 open date, team schedules could still be affected. Should the PAC-12, Big 10, Big XII, and/or ACC decide to delay or cancel their 2020 seasons altogether, it could result in a condensed schedule, or even an all SEC slate for the Gamecocks and others around the conference.
Some early season games that could be in jeopardy include Alabama v. Southern Cal, Georgia v. Virginia, LSU v. Texas, and Ole Miss v. Baylor. There could also be an effect on South Carolina’s first two games, as they face out-of-conference foes Coastal Carolina and East Carolina.
Sankey says that he speaks with leaders of outside conferences on a daily basis as they brainstorm the best course of action. He obviously will push for the season to be played in the Fall, as long as it’s safe for athletes, coaches, and fans. He also seems optimistic that each conference will reach the same decision, going back to what played out with the postseason basketball tournaments.
“That’s one of the complexities that’s in front of college football. It’s different than the professional conversation. The best example I can give is to go back to March. We all made independent decisions to stop our basketball tournament, but came to the same conclusions. The result of what’s happened is among the autonomy conferences, those of us in the (Power) Five — ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and myself — we talk every day. We have medical committees; they talk every week. That will be a big part of guiding us forward.”
Fans around the country are itching for football, and this seems to be another step in the right direction, at least for the folks in the Southeast. Will we see the Gamecocks suit up in September? We’ll have a much better idea at the end of July.