SEC shifts to conference-only season, delays start; Phil Fulmer speaks on changes

Georgia running back D'Andre Swift (7) dives across the goal line for a touchdown as he is defended by Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli (35) and defensive back Shawn Shamburger (12) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

The Southeastern Conference has announced there will only be a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the upcoming football season.

For safety reasons, the SEC pushed the season back to September 26th. Right out of the gate, it will be conference play - no cupcakes up front.

In addition to the 10-game, league-only schedule, they will include a conference championship in Atlanta, which has also been pushed back two weeks to Dec. 19.

The schedule will include one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on Dec. 12 for all schools.

The SEC says it went with conference-only in order to have more flexibility to change any schedules if needed.

As for the Vols, they should play all seven division foes and two additional ones from the West. According to Sports Illustrated, that formula will apply to all schools.

"A tremendous amount of thought and discussion went into making what we believe is a responsible decision on scheduling format, and it's exciting to be making progress toward competition," said Vols Director of Athletics Phil Fulmer in a statement, "Our student-athletes and coaches are working hard to prepare while prioritizing health and safety. There are still several logistical unknowns, but we appreciate Vol Nation being patient and sticking with us as we continue to work through these unique circumstances."

Fulmer says they are working to make a decision on capacity at Neyland Stadium. "We plan to coordinate with state and local officials on gameday attendance, understanding that potential limitations could change from week to week once the season begins. This underscores the importance of the public practicing healthy habits statewide," he said.

A new schedule is expected to come out for the season in the near future, the SEC said.

The SEC joins the ACC and the Big Ten with this decision to play shortened, conference-only games amid the coronavirus pandemic.