OU football: SEC goes to conference-only schedule, Sooners game vs. Tennessee off
NORMAN — OU's football schedule took its first hit Thursday.
The SEC voted to move to a conference-only schedule for 2020, starting no earlier than Sept. 26, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
That decision eliminates the Sooners' scheduled Sept. 12 home game against Tennessee.
The game was part of a two-game home-and-home series between the Sooners and Volunteers. Tennessee is schedule to host OU in 2024.
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The contract for the game calls for Tennessee to be paid $400,000 for this year's game. If either side cancels without cause, the contract calls for a $1 million payout to the other school.
While other Tennessee non-conference contracts for 2020 specifically list pandemic as a reason for cancellation, there is no such language in the contract with OU, though "acts of God" is listed as a valid reason for default. The contract also mentions that if the game is canceled due to a ruling from a "governing association or body of which both parties are members" the contract wouldn't be defaulted.
With the decision coming from the SEC, that could leave an opening for OU to demand the payment, at least if no NCAA-wide ruling is made.
It might be difficult to reschedule the game for awhile, barring a change in scheduling.
The Sooners have non-conference Power 5 games booked for every season through 2033, though they could opt to play two such games.
Earlier this week, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said that if the Sooners' Sept. 26 game at Army was canceled, that he would look into rescheduling that matchup as soon as possible, though he pointed out the difficulty in making that happen.
The SEC became the fourth of the Power 5 to announce a change in their schedule. The conference joined the Big Ten and Pac 12 in eliminating non-conference games in 2020. The ACC announced Wednesday that it was going to a schedule with 10 conference games and one non-conference game per school. Many of those non-conference games, though, were expected to be against SEC schools, including Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Clemson-South Carolina.
The Big 12 remains the only major conference which hasn't altered their schedule. Conference presidents are expected to be presented with options for scheduling models Monday.