SEC announces new football rescheduling guidelines

By Russell Wilburn

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The SEC has announced several new measures to make rescheduling postponed football matchups easier. 

The league will allow teams that do not qualify for the SEC Championship Game to play on Dec. 19, the same day as the league's title game. Additionally, the league wil allow teams to tweak upcoming game opponents as early as five days before competition. 

In practice, what that means is that if an upcoming game is postponed, the league would allow them to replace the matchup with another on the schedule. In Texas A&M's case, that could mean that a future postponed opponent could be replaced with Tennessee as late as Monday before a game. Teams could hypothetically also move other opponents up under these new guidelines. 

However, any movement must involve a matchup already listed on the schedule. A team would not be allowed to schedule a rematch or a new opponent from the opposite division to replace a postponed game. The focus is to complete the 10-game schedule. 

"It has been a goal of the SEC to play a complete football schedule provided we maintain a healthy environment for student-athletes and everyone around our football programs," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. 

The news comes on the heels on a string of postponements in the SEC. Four of the seven matchups were postponed because of COVID-19, including Texas A&M at Tennessee. 

All the scheduling mayhem is an attempt to complete the SEC schedule by Dec. 19. At this point, the College Football Playoff has set a hard deadline of Dec. 19 to complete all games in advance of the playoff committee's decisions, which will be revealed on Dec. 20. 

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said on SiriusXM radio that the CFP operations committee could choose to push back the decision date and playoff if it chose, but no decision has been reached at this point.

Across the sport, we have seen expedited schedules take their toll. The Big Ten was unable to build in any off weeks, so Wisconsin has already lost two of their eight scheduled games and will likely not receive any more. Arizona State had a rash of COVID-19 cases after its first game and now is guaranteed to lose at least one of its six games, if not more. 

With Texas A&M's postponement, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas State are the only three teams in the state that have yet to lose a game to COVID-19. 

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