In case you missed it, the SEC announced yesterday that they will be conducting a conference-only football season, starting on September 26th.
It's officially official.
The SEC will be conducting a 10-game, conference-only football schedule this fall.
Week 1 will be September 26th.https://t.co/HyhUd9oB06
— FOX Sports Knoxville (@FOXSportsKnox) July 30, 2020
The announcement isn’t entirely a surprise, as the Big-10, Pac-12, and ACC have all announced similar intentions for the coming season.
But what does this all mean for Tennessee?
Tennessee is probably going to be playing the other six teams in the SEC East. No surprise there.
They are also due to play their annual rivalry game with Alabama.
And finally, their next opponent in the cross-division rotation is Arkansas.
For those of you keeping track at home, that’s only eight games. The SEC has suggested a 10-game conference schedule.
So who will Tennessee’s other two opponents be?!?!?!?!?!
Most people just assumed that the next two teams in each teams’ cross-division rotation would fill in the blanks. For Tennessee, that would mean a trip to Baton Rouge to play LSU and Ole Miss coming to Knoxville. But, according to Ross Dellenger of SI, it won’t be so simple.
I was spitballing about the two additional SEC games in 2020.
I'm now told that a separate scheduling model – composed by the league office using strength of schedule – will determine the two additional opponents for 2020. https://t.co/hFWO0Caljp
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 30, 2020
What does that even mean? It’s hard to say at this point. Hopefully, it means this scheduling model will account for Tennessee playing Florida, Georgia, and Alabama every single year, and give us a break for once.
There are only five options for these final two games; Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, and Auburn. Surely, since Tennessee already has to play the three perennial top-10 teams mentioned above, this mysterious scheduling model that uses “strength of schedule” will account for it….right?
Translation; probably no LSU…hopefully. That leaves Auburn, TAMU, and the Mississippi schools.
Seeing as how Tennessee played Mississippi State last year, it probably won’t be them, either. And seeing as how the SEC wants to try and keep their cross-division rotation intact, Tennessee is also likely going to play Ole Miss next year. Might take them out of the picture, as well.
Which leaves Auburn and Texas A&M. I’ve solved the puzzle…?
This is all hyperbole. There is no telling what sort of system the SEC is going to come up with. The only near certainty I can think of at the moment are Tennessee will add one home game and one away game to their current conference slate. Just to keep it at an even 5-5 split.
I have to imagine; though, if this model truly is based on strength of schedule, it probably won’t add on the reigning national champions to Tennessee’s plate. As mentioned above, Tennessee already has a pretty strong strength of schedule.
Or maybe this model will be designed to make tough schedules even tougher, and Tennessee will have to go to Baton Rouge and College Station in the same week. You never know with the SEC. And you certainly never know with Tennessee.
Either way, we should know something official sooner rather than later. Camp is due to start next week.
My hope is Tennessee gets Auburn at home and Mississippi State on the road. Pruitt, born Bammer, will never lose to Auburn if he can help it. And going to Starkville would allow Tennessee fans everywhere to rekindle their passionate, albeit brief, love affair with The Pirate himself.
Who do you think/hope Tennessee will add to their conference schedule? Let us know on twitter @FOXSportsKnox