Auburn junior receiver Anthony Schwartz provided a touch of levity after the Southeastern Conference decided to implement a 10-game football season consisting solely of league contests.
"Does this mean that more teams will be playing three top-five teams besides us?" Schwartz posted on Twitter, referencing Auburn's plight of being the lone SEC program required annually to face the trio of Alabama, Georgia and LSU.
The task of formulating the 10-game slate falls on SEC executive associate commissioner Mark Womack, and the scheduling headaches may just be starting. The league's decision not to play any nonconference games eliminated a quartet of season-ending matchups against Atlantic Coast Conference schools: Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Kentucky-Louisville and South Carolina-Clemson.
ACC officials voted Wednesday to play 10 league games plus one nonconference contest in order to spare those rivalries, but the SEC scheduling model revealed Thursday instantly axed them.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said Thursday in a virtual news conference that the desire to start the season Sept. 26, play 10 conference games in an 11-week stretch and keep Dec. 12 available for rescheduling purposes simply resulted in the league running out of Saturdays. The Gators were scheduled to visit Florida State on Nov. 28, so will next season's game take place in Gainesville or Tallahassee?
"Next year's game is scheduled here, obviously, but we're trying to figure out 2020," Stricklin said.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity is facing the same dilemma regarding Georgia Tech, which was scheduled to visit Athens on Nov. 28. McGarity said he would be talking with Yellow Jackets counterpart Todd Stansbury in the days ahead to "see what we can do."
One game that does appear set is the Georgia-Florida showdown at Jacksonville's TIAA Bank Field on Oct. 31. Stricklin said that would be a tough date to move given that the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars already have their schedule set.
"If we're able to get to the point where we can play that game, we would like to try and play it in Jacksonville," Stricklin said. "The benefit there is that's a stadium that would have hosted NFL games, and whatever protocol that needs to be in place, you would think that they would be able to accommodate that. Our hope and our goal is to try and play that game in Jacksonville.
"We're going to go down that path and see if it's feasible for us."
McGarity, who stated Thursday that masks will be mandatory for games inside Sanford Stadium, believes that moving the rivalry out of Jacksonville this year would create future problems.
"The one thing we wouldn't want to do is play Florida here with a limited crowd and then go to Gainesville in 2021 with 93,000 fans," McGarity said. "I don't think we want to be in that position. Right now, unless something changes, that game will be in Jacksonville."
Herb Vincent, an SEC associate commissioner, posted Friday morning on Twitter that the league's schedule release was not imminent and told inquiring minds to "have a nice weekend."
Arkansas and Texas A&M have been playing annually at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas, but those schools appear to be closer to a move. Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork said recently that he is working with Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek on moving this year's game to Kyle Field in College Station, which would mean limited attendance this season with next year's game in Fayetteville.
The 2022-23 games between Arkansas and Texas A&M would then move back to the NFL venue.
A 10-game SEC schedule will be more taxing for all involved, especially a Vanderbilt program looking to bounce back in Derek Mason's seventh season and an Arkansas program that begins Sam Pittman's first year on a 19-game league losing streak. There will be nothing normal about it, no matter how the schedule shakes out under Womack's supervision.
"Five SEC home games will be the most anybody has ever had," Stricklin said, "so that will be different."