SEC moves to conference-only football schedule with Sept. 26 start

SEC moves to conference-only football schedule with Sept. 26 start
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The Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced Thursday it would be going with the conference-only model adopted by other sports leagues amid the coronavirus pandemic, moving forward with a Sept. 26 start this fall.

Sports Illustrated reported that presidents from the southern college football conference decided on a 10-game, conference-only model, which will begin three weeks after the initially slated Labor Day weekend start.

The SEC's announcement creates new obstacles conflicting with the ACC's previously announced 11-game schedule with 10 conference games. 

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Before SEC's decision Thursday, traditional rivalry games could have commenced between Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Kentucky-Louisville, and South Carolina-Clemson.

The decision also passes other nonconference games against Power 5 teams, including Tennessee-Oklahoma, LSU-Texas, Mississippi State-NC State, Baylor-Ole Miss, Arkansas-Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt-Kansas State.

Still, the decision to play conference-only games could save the SEC millions of dollars in a season that is still up in the air due to rising coronavirus pandemic case numbers. 

The SEC decision will pass typical games against the Group of Five and FCS teams, which are known as "buy games" due to the millions of dollars the conference spends on traveling and other expenses to play outside teams.

Sports Illustrated reported the SEC paid more than $45 million in buy games in 2017.

The optics for sports leagues returning to normalcy weigh with heavy questioning, as other associations like the MLB struggle with players and team members testing positive, causing delayed matches in an already abbreviated season.