By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Jimmy Hyams reported last week, on SportsTalk on 99.1 The Sports Animal here in Knoxville, about one of the options the Southeastern Conference is considering for an abbreviated 2020 college football season.
The league has discussed, just as a potential option, a conference game only season with a twist. The SEC schedule would be 9 games. The 9th game to be added to this season’s schedule would be each team’s crossover matchup scheduled for the 2021 season. That crossover is the rotating opponent for the opposite division.
This is just one of many scenarios the SEC has likely discussed, but it is an interesting once that deserves a deeper dive into.
The crossover matchups in 2020 have the seven SEC East teams playing on the road at the 7 SEC West teams. Here’s how those 2020 crossover matchups are currently scheduled.
Tennessee at Arkansas
Florida at Ole Miss
Georgia at Alabama
Kentucky at Auburn
Missouri at Mississippi St.
South Carolina at LSU
Vanderbilt at Texas A&M
That reverses in 2021 with the West teams playing at the East teams. Here are those matchups that potentially could be added to the 2020 schedule.
Ole Miss at Tennessee
Alabama at Florida
Arkansas at Georgia
Auburn at South Carolina
LSU at Kentucky
Mississippi St. at Vanderbilt
Texas A&M at Missouri
Here are just some of my takeaways in “Vince’s View” from this 9-game SEC scheduling scenario of adding the 2021 crossover opponent to the 2020 football schedule.
An Ole Miss game at Neyland Stadium would mean the return of one-time Vols coach Lane Kiffin. He coached against the Vols as an assistant at Alabama, but this would be his first game back as the head coach of another program since leaving after one season at the helm at UT in 2009. That would spice things up even more. It would be a shame if a full stadium of Vols fans wasn’t there to enjoy that.
Texas A&M would absolutely draw the shortest straw in this 9-game SEC scheduling scenario. With the annual game with Arkansas in Arlington, Texas being a “home game” in 2020 and the additional game also sending the Aggies on the road, that means A&M would only play 3 of 9 total games at home at Kyle Field in College Station.
In addition, if the 9th game is added to where the open week is scheduled or where any of the non-conference games are currently slated to be, it would overload A&M, either way, with all but one of their games away from home being played before their first game in College Station November 7. That is wild. This season’s schedule has the Aggies’ SEC home games at Kyle Field all in the month of November. That extra game, with no non-conference games late in the season, would likely be added before November, unless the extra game was tagged on to the end of the season or the entire season is moved back or rearranged. We’ll see if any maneuvering could be done to help Texas A&M. If not, it’s just part of the imbalance and lack of fairness we’re going to see during this period of the initial return of sports.
It’s certainly possible that home atmospheres won’t be the difference-makers they typically would be if social distancing measures are in place, but that is still brutally difficult. Remember, Texas A&M had to deal with #1 ranked teams Clemson, Alabama and LSU last season.
Arkansas enters this season on a 19-game SEC losing streak. Arkansas already has to deal with the gauntlet of the SEC West plus UT at home and at Missouri. Then, they would add a trip to SEC favorite and college football playoff contender Georgia on top of that.
Florida adding Alabama is tough on its own, but the Gators already have to deal with LSU as well, as its permanent crossover.
Alabama adding Florida on the road would mean no complaints about an easy schedule for the Crimson Tide this season. In addition to the West foes, Bama would have to play the expected three best teams in the East as well, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.
South Carolina would play Auburn in addition to already having to play at Florida, at LSU, home to Georgia and Tennessee.
Fan bases will be in full throat and full posting-mode on social media to vent about how unfair things are against their team (insert conspiracy theories here.) If we get college football back, in any way this season, that should void all outrage. Just be thankful that our beloved sport is back, please.
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