The SEC’s plan to try to salvage its college football season is an expanded 10-game conference only slate that means that UGA’s longtime rivalry game against in-state rival Georgia Tech won’t be played this year.
The news was reported by Ross Dellenger of SI.com. The SEC did not immediately respond for comment.
The league also is pushing back the start of its season to Sept. 26. It’s unclear what two additional games will be added for Georgia. The SEC championship game will be Dec. 19.
The decision came a day after the ACC went with its own 10 game schedule with one nonconference game. The SEC presidents and chancellors voted on the schedule on Thursday.
Georgia president Jere Morehead declined to comment through a spokesperson. Athletic director Greg McGarity had said earlier this month that Georgia hoped to keep the game with Georgia Tech on the schedule.
There is much at stake financially on college football finding a way to play a season on the bottom line of budgets that pay for hefty coaching salaries and feed a facilities arms race.
Georgia and Georgia Tech last did not play their rivalry game in 1924 when Calvin Coolidge was president.
The SEC is moving forward with a plan for its season with the COVID-19 pandemic still threatening to sideline games if not the season in a conference where fans live and breathe the sport.
States in the league’s footprint have shown troubling spikes of infection for weeks. Florida and Texas had its highest day for deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday and Georgia’s 79 were three off its record.
There are major challenges ahead as evident by Major League Baseball, which got through just four days of its games in its shortened season before an outbreak on the Florida Marlins, which postponed its games until through at least Sunday.
College football — like MLB — won’t be played in a bubble. Already, 16 FBS teams have had to shut down workouts even before tens of thousands of fellow students return to campus including Miami, Ohio State, North Carolina and Michigan State, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com
Georgia has not disclosed how many athletes have tested positive but eight SEC schools have combined for at least 20 positive cases since they have returned to campuses, according to a USA Today Sports database. That doesn’t include at least 30 LSU players that were quarantined because of positive tests or exposure.
Georgia was due to pay Louisiana-Monroe a $1.75 million guarantee and East Tennessee State $555,000., but lawyers could determine if the force majeure clause in the contract (which doesn’t explicitly reference a pandemic) will be in effect.
A nonconference game with Virginia that was scheduled for Labor Day in Atlanta is now off after the ACC’s announcement.
The league and Georgia have stepped up its appeal to the public to slow the spread.
The SEC earlier this month on its Twitter account asked fans to wear masks, showing each of the league’s 14 football coaches doing just that. Georgia coach Kirby Smart narrated a team video that included asking fans to wear a mask in public, the university included Smart, baskeball coach Tom Crean and athletic director Greg McGarity in a wear mask video of its own.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 earlier this month announced they were going to conference only games.
The SEC only schedule would give the league more flexibility in case the season is disrupted to make changes to the schedule. It also allows for consistent testing across the league and standards for sharing information and protocols.