SEC goes to conference-only schedule, Texas-LSU cancelled as a result

The Big 12 Conference hasn’t released their plans for the 2020 college football season amid the coronavirus pandemic, but other conferences have. The Southeastern Conference announced Thursday its teams would play a conference-only schedule, meaning Tom Herman’s Longhorns won’t travel to Baton Rouge to face the defending national champion LSU Tigers.

The move was reported by multiple outlets during the week and finalized in a Thursday afternoon announcement by the SEC. In addition to Texas-LSU other marquee matchups like Oklahoma-Tennessee were also cancelled.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

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Texas hasn’t made a statement on the matter and athletics director Chris Del Conte, normally active on social media, hasn’t made a public comment.

In addition to LSU, Texas has non-conference games scheduled with UTEP and South Florida. The status of those games have not yet been altered.

UT interim president Jay Hartzell announced Wednesday that UT Board of Regents chairman Kevin Eltife requested the university look into the logistics of capping stadium capacity at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium at 25 percent. Throughout the process, Del Conte has stated Texas continues to plan for 50 percent attendance for home games.

“As rates in Austin and throughout Texas continue to ebb and flow, we must be agile and work consistently to develop strategies to protect the safety of our student athletes, coaches, staff members, students and all who visit our campus for athletic events,” Hartzell said. “As we approach the start of the football season, we will closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and make final decisions based on the guidance of our Board of Regents and state health officials in the coming weeks.”

Losing the trip to Baton Rouge costs Texas a “prove it” game in a 2020 season Herman had high hopes for. Whether that trip is the only schedule casualty remains to be seen.