Big Ten, Pac-12 cancel season as SWAC releases plan for shorter schedule

The Big Ten became the first Power Five conference to postpone its fall sports season — football included — on Aug. 11, when it announced it won’t play as scheduled “due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Pac-12 then followed the Big Ten’s lead hours later, as many had expected. The landmark decisions came against the backdrop of the #WeWantToPlay movement led by stars such Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence that swept the country in the days leading up to the Big Ten and Pac-12 cancellations.

While the Big Ten and Pac-12 made waves with their respective announcements, the sentiment was not shared with the remaining three of the Power Five Conferences. Big 12 presidents met shortly after the Big Ten and Pac-12 cancellations and voted to continue along with plans for a 2020 season. The conference released its planned slate the following morning. In addition, the ACC and SEC have yet to waver in their intentions of following through with a fall season.

Below is the breakdown of what we know about the measures being taken at each division of the sport as the scheduled kickoff of the 2020 college football season approaches.

FBS

Big 12: League presidents met on Aug. 11 and voted to forge ahead with the 2020 college football season in the fall. The full schedule — which includes league play beginning on Sept. 26 with one nonconference game for teams to be played two weeks prior on Sept. 12 — was released the following morning, and you can view the full details here

Big Ten: The Big Ten announced that it is postponing fall sports with hopes of playing in the spring. By doing so, it became the first Power Five conference to take such a drastic step. The landmark decision came amid uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it met plenty resistance from players, parents, fans and even some universities. Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos and head coach Scott Frost released a joint statement shortly after the Big Ten’s announcement criticizing the decision.

The Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel reported that the Big Ten has been working on a revised schedule that would begin in early January and likely include just eight games.

Pac-12: The Pac-12 canceled its fall sports season on Aug. 11 with hopes of playing in the spring. The move came less than two weeks after the league announced its fall football schedule.

SEC: The SEC is forging ahead with a 10-game, conference-only schedule that will begin Sept. 26.

ACC: The ACC decided on an 11-game game schedule for the 2020 season, consisting of 10 league games and one nonconference opponent. Notre Dame will join the ACC for 2020 only.

CONFERENCETOTAL GAMESCONF. / NONCONF.DIVISIONS?START DATETITLE GAME
ACC1110 / 1NoSept. 7Dec. 12 or Dec. 19
Big Ten1010 / 0YesSept. 3Dec. 5
Big 12109 / 1NoSept. 12Dec. 12 or Dec. 19
Pac-121010 / 0YesSept. 26Dec. 18/19
SEC1010 / 0YesSept. 26Dec. 19

Independents: Notre Dame is scheduled to play 10 ACC teams this season as part of the conference’s updated schedule. On the other extreme, UConn, UMass and New Mexico State have canceled their 2020 seasons. The other independents are BYU, Liberty and Army, and each are in varying stages of finalizing their 2020 slates.

Conference USA: C-USA announced Aug. 12 that it met with medical professionals and will continue working toward playing in 2020. Its teams will play their originally scheduled eight conference games and up to four nonconference games. The league title game is scheduled for Dec. 5 but could be moved to later if needed. However, Old Dominion has made the call to cancel fall sports.

AAC: AAC teams will be allowed to play up to 12 games, if they choose. The league slate is scheduled to consist of eight games, like it usually does, with conference play beginning on Sept. 19. The AAC Championship Game will be played on either Dec. 5, 12 or 19 at the stadium of the regular-season champion.

MAC: The MAC will not play college football in the fall. It does, however, intend to play in the spring. 

Mountain West: The league announced that it will not play a fall 2020 season. It does intend to play in the spring.

Sun Belt: The Sun Belt announced on Aug. 4 that it will play a full season beginning on Labor Day. Several member schools have had nonconference games canceled, but the league will allow teams to add new nonconference games in order to reach a 12-game slate. A league championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but the date can be adjusted if necessary. On Aug. 10, amid growing cancellation concerns amid some conferences, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported that the Sun Belt is planning for football in the fall. 

FCS

NCAA president Mark Emmert said on Aug. 14 that NCAA-sponsored championships would not happen this fall, including the FCS playoffs. The FCS is comprised of 13 conferences and two independent programs. All conferences and teams have postponed their fall conference schedules, though a few teams are planning to play a limited slate of nonconference games in the fall.

On Aug. 17, amid the uncertainty over what a spring schedule could look like at all levels of college football, one FCS league revealed its plan. The SWAC announced a six-game slate for its 10 teams that will begin Feb. 27 and conclude with a championship game on May 1. The league’s plan will allow for teams to play one nonconference game.

Division II, III and NAIA

The NCAA Division II and Division III councils canceled their fall championships on Aug. 5, citing the challenges posed by the pandemic. Those decisions came after the NAIA announced on July 31 that its football national championship has been postponed to the spring, though the NAIA left it up to individual conferences on whether or not they still want to have seasons this fall.