The dominoes are falling.
It all started on July 9 when the Big Ten stunned the college football world by announcing it would play a schedule of only conference games due to COVID-19.
Then, mere hours later, the Pac-12 mimicked the Big Ten’s move and also decided to play a conference-only schedule.
But, surprisingly, the dominoes stopped falling.
The other Power Five leagues — the SEC, ACC and Big 12 — decided not to be impetuous (not to mention repetitive) and chose to weigh their options.
Then, bam, 20 days later on July 29, the dominoes went plummeting again. This time the SEC got it rolling, siding with the Big Ten and Pac-12 on a schedule of only conference games.
That set the ACC’s wheels in motion and it provided an intriguing twist. The league chose to play a schedule of 10 conference games, but added a plus-one factor with one non-conference game.
There’s a caveat, however.
The non-conference game must be played in the ACC member’s home state.
That was bad news for both West Virginia University and Marshall University. The Mountaineers already had lost a home game vs. Maryland on Sept. 19 because of the Big Ten’s conference-only scheduling. Then WVU lost its Chick-fil-A matchup in Atlanta against Florida State. Even a proposed matchup with the University of Virginia in a Chick-fil-A format got squashed by the ACC’s scheduling stipulations.
As for Marshall, the Thundering Herd was supposed to host Pittsburgh on Sept. 12 in Joan C. Edwards Stadium. It was the return game in the two schools’ home-and-home series.
But now the Panthers can’t play MU, again, because of the ACC’s new stipulations. Marshall reportedly has a $1 million guarantee from Pitt, but who knows how that will sort out in these troubled financial times?
So, to review, four of the five Power Five leagues have announced scheduling plans. The only conference that is undecided is the Big 12, which is slated to meet on Monday and consider four or five scheduling models.
Now, it’s time for the elephant in the room. And I’m not referring to Alabama’s mascot.
What are the Group of Five conferences going to do, scheduling-wise?
Charlotte already has lost games at Tennessee and at Duke. Middle Tennessee’s games at Duke and home to Virginia Tech have been canceled. The same goes for Old Dominion’s home game vs. Wake Forest, Florida Atlantic’s game at Minnesota and Western Kentucky’s games at Indiana and at Louisville.
Besides those lost non-conference games, UAB won’t be playing at Miami (Fla.), North Texas won’t travel to Texas A&M and Southern Miss won’t play at Auburn.
It’s safe to assume a similar scenario is unfolding in the other four Group of Five leagues — American Athletic Conference, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference.
So, is it simply a matter of time until the Group of Five leagues come to the same or, at least, similar conclusions as the Power Five?
It certainly seems that way.
I mean, the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 are called the Power Five for a reason. It’s because they call the shots for the 130 FBS programs.
If college football is played this fall — and that is still a big if — it appears the season will consist almost entirely of games within the confines of each conference.
Is there anything wrong with that?
I don’t think so.