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Maggard: Sun Belt building contingencies as college football's schedule continues to change

Posted at 7:15 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 12:18:49-04

Louisiana football playing a home-and-home with in-state rival ULM, or Arkansas State in 2020 isn't out of the realm of possibilities.

As college football scheduling continues to shift, the Sun Belt continues to plot contingency plans.

"It's not like the Group of Five, or Sun Belt is just waiting," said Louisiana Athletic Director Dr. Bryan Maggard.

In an interview with KATC, the Cajuns AD laid out some of the ideas being spit-balled. The conference could cut out non-conference play, it could fill in the cracks left by the changes, or fill out the schedule with conference teams. He said the league could achieve a 12-game slate by playing home-and-homes. But at the end of the day, he still feels there is plenty of interest from college football to play as scheduled.

"I think if we're going to be able to play 12, I think the SEC and Big12, at least, and ACC, but for sure those two, I think they want to play 12 as well," Maggard added.

Conversations about reshaping fall scheduling ramped up Thursday when the BigTen announced it would only play conference games this fall. The Pac12 followed suit Friday. Those decisions will cost Sun Belt teams Appalachian State and Arkansas State who were scheduled to play Wisconsin and Michigan respectively. While some see these two power conference as being the first dominoes to fall, Dr. Maggard believes it's not that simple. He said the other conferences are planning to wait until the end of the month to make big decisions.

"At the end of the day they have to do what they feel is best for them, but up until yesterday, and even today with nine of the ten [conferences] being on the same page."

The SEC's decision will have the greatest impact on the Sun Belt. Of the Sun Belt's ten power-five match-ups, five are against SEC schools, including the Cajuns games against Missouri. The meeting that carries a $1.3 million guarantee for Louisiana. If the SEC cuts its non-conference games Sun Belt teams stand to lose a lot of money.

"All the contract languages will have to be interpreted, and we'll see where we land with buyouts or liquidated damages or things of that nature. Again, that's a bridge we'll have to cross if we come to it," Maggard said.

In June, as teams headed in voluntary workouts, optimism around college football was at its highest since college athletics shut down in March. Thursday, Ohio State athletic Gene Smith said he was no longer "cautiously optimistic" about college football's future. Maggard holds a more positive view.

"I still remain optimistic. I will be that way until I'm told we can't play or it will look different," he said. "Am I getting myself more mentally prepared? We have to. We'd be irresponsible if we did not. But the collective mindset of the sports leaders want to play. Obviously we'll have to succumb to safety, and if we feels as a nation it's not wise we have to put that reason in front of everything else."

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