While the SEC is playing chess, the ACC is still playing checkers

While the SEC is playing chess, the ACC is still playing checkers


While the SEC is playing chess, the ACC is still playing checkers


Monday Morning Quarterback

Usually at this time of the year, John Swofford and the good folks at the Atlantic Coast Conference offices in Greensboro, N.C., will sit back and catch their breath and start to enjoy their summer vacations.

However, as they ACC wrapped up its annual spring meetings last Friday, Commissioner Swofford acknowledged there will not be too much rest and relaxation this summer for his league or any of the major conferences in intercollegiate athletics.

“This is going to be a very different summer than we are used to in college athletics,” he said. “A lot of times when we leave the spring meetings, you can take a deep breath, relax awhile and kick back at the ACC Baseball Tournament and enjoy that.

“But that’s not the case. That’s another terrific event we are going to miss in the ACC. I told our group today that it’s often said the only constant in life is change. And certainly, we are seeing that right now in a very unexpected way that none of us could have really predicted.”

The change of course is COVID-19. The ACC and other major conferences, such as fellow Power 5 leagues the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and the Pac-12, are trying to strategize when there might be a return to play this coming fall.

However, no one seems to have a definite answer on when that might be.

“Intercollegiate athletics has never been in a more challenging situation in my career than it’s in now. But you can say that about so many aspects of our country,” Swofford said. “So many people are so negatively impacted by all of this in various ways in the loss of lives and the loss of jobs and everything that goes with that and the pain that this is creating.

“I just hope the time will come, sooner rather than later, when we can get back to sports. I’m a big believer that sport plays an important part in our culture and a positive part in our culture, and hopefully, we’ll have that opportunity to do that collectively again sooner rather than later.”

Though it does not have answer just yet, the SEC is trying to find one. Once again, the Southeastern Conference is out in front of everyone when it comes to planning.

While Clemson and several ACC schools still have not officially released a plan for a return to campus, many of the SEC schools already have, including the University of South Carolina. As of Friday, reports surfaced the league will be ready to vote on Friday if student athletes will be allowed on campuses either on June 1 or June 15.

Getting the student-athletes back on campus is the most important goal right now for college administrators because it can lead to when they might be able to set a date to start the football season.

Though Swofford said the ACC “anticipates” there being college football in the fall, the SEC is forging ahead with the 2020 football season.

“Our focus is on playing the season as scheduled.” SEC Associate Commissioner Herb Vincent told WBIR-TV last week. “That’s what we’re working towards. That’s what we’re preparing for.”

Meanwhile, the ACC is preparing for four scenarios and two of them do not involve football at all. Swofford told The Clemson Insider, and other ACC media members on Friday, the Four Scenarios are:

  1. Football is played as it is currently scheduled
  2. A shortened football season
  3. No football but they still play basketball as schedule
  4. No sports at all for the 2020-21 academic year

However, Swofford later said, “I don’t think some school not being able to compete necessarily keeps the majority of the schools, who could compete, from competing.”

TCI was told Clemson University could likely release its plan for students to return to campus this week, which could give a baseline on when it might be able to get its student-athletes back on campus.

When could that happen? No one knows at this point in time. The only thing that seems certain is the SEC has a plan in place and they appear ready to execute it.

“People are focusing maybe on the wrong date,” Vincent said. “People want to find out when we can start playing football. We really need to determine when we can get our student athletes back to campus or back to a situation where they can prepare to practice to play football.”

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