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SEC moving to conference-only schedule, pushes back 2020 start date

More changes are underway.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Clemson at South Carolina Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

That didn’t take long.

Just a day after the ACC announced its move to an 11-game schedule, the SEC has decided it will rearrange its schedule, too.

Per John Talty of AL.com, conference officials have decided to reduce the schedule to a 10-game, conference-only format with a start date of September 26.

The SEC just confirmed the move with an official announcement.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” Sankey said. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

The move will eliminate the Charlotte, Oklahoma, Troy and Furman matchups for Tennessee. While there hasn’t been an official announcement made on potentially reshuffling the order of the season, the first game on deck for Tennessee would be a home matchup against the Florida Gators on September 26th.

Who will Tennessee’s two additional opponents be? Ross Dellenger reports that the league will use strength of schedule to determine that.

“We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” Sankey said. “It is regrettable that some of our traditional non-conference rivalries cannot take place in 2020 under this plan, but these are unique, and hopefully temporary, circumstances that call for unconventional measures.”

Update: Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer has released a statement.

“Today’s announcement by the Southeastern Conference provides important clarity as it relates to the 2020 football season. The league office is currently developing a revised schedule.

“A tremendous amount of thought and discussion went into making what we believe is a responsible decision on scheduling format, and it’s exciting to be making progress toward competition. Our student-athletes and coaches are working hard to prepare while prioritizing health and safety. There are still several logistical unknowns, but we appreciate Vol Nation being patient and sticking with us as we continue to work through these unique circumstances.

“Our next important reference point is a decision on capacity at Neyland Stadium. We plan to coordinate with state and local officials on gameday attendance, understanding that potential limitations could change from week to week once the season begins. This underscores the importance of the public practicing healthy habits statewide.

“We’ve been working through plans for several different capacity scenarios and ticket allocation strategies and aim to communicate specifics once details are finalized.

“Conversations remain ongoing at the NCAA and conference level regarding fall plans for Olympic sports.”