This afternoon, the Big Ten announced that it will move to a conference-only schedule for fall sports, including football, if they can take place. Other leagues are starting to follow suit, including the ACC, per a new report.
Moments after the Big Ten made the decision official, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported that the ACC is “expected” to make the same move. This would also have a major impact on SEC programs. Annual rivalry games like Clemson-South Carolina, Florida-Florida State, Kentucky-Louisville, and Georgia-Georgia Tech would be off the schedule this fall.
Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement with the country also makes the ACC’s decision an interesting one. The Fighting Irish are set to play six games against conference teams this fall, including Clemson. Per McMurphy, ACC commissioner John Swofford has previously said that the league will help Notre Dame fill out a schedule.
Now, the SEC and Big 12, the two conferences whose footprints are being most deeply impacted by COVID-19 at the moment, have been relatively quiet on this issue. If the other three Power Five leagues move forward, it is hard to imagine them not following suit.
ACC football also expected to play conference-only games, sources told @Stadium. Last month, ACC commish John Swofford told @Stadium if Power 5 schools played conference-only schedules that ACC would assist Notre Dame with as many games as it needed
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 9, 2020
This ACC decision is probably the right one for the moment. It helps buy some time in case more drastic moves, like a spring season, need to happen.
There are repercussions, of course. This is going to be very bad for the bottom lines of schools in the Group of Five leagues, who rely on payouts from Power Five teams for non-conference games every year. FCS programs that play these programs will have similar concerns.
A Group of 5 AD on cancellation of guarantee game contracts costing his and other G5 athletic departments millions: “So do we end up in court?”
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 9, 2020
Right now, the coronavirus is the biggest issue, and taking steps to reduce risk is a good thing. There are still significant obstacles to playing a season this fall at all, even with this change.