The SEC intends to play football this fall. Twelve games, with fans in the stands. This seems pretty clear -- but others may not follow that lead.
During the PAC-12's coaches teleconference Monday, the possibility of the conference only playing an eight-game conference schedule was seriously discussed. It was serious enough that Alabama has contacted TCU to position them as an 11th-hour substitute for USC in the Advocare Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Sept. 5.
The Aggies have a PAC-12 opponent on the schedule -- Colorado in week 3, or Sept. 19. So what if the Buffs are grounded by their own conference? The Aggies would have to scramble to find a new opponent, probably someone who had a game dropped by another PAC-12 team.
Here's the list of teams playing PAC-12 opponents that weekend: Utah State, Wyoming, Idaho, Hawaii, Portland State, BYU, San Diego State...
and Texas Tech.
Which of these are viable alternatives for the Aggies? BYU played Tennessee last year at Rocky Top and won. They're FBS, so they would work. Utah State has played at A&M before, as has Wyoming. Hawaii seems like a stretch. San Diego State may not play due to restrictions put on it by the state's government (more on that in a second). Portland State and Idaho are FCS; the Aggies can't add another FCS opponent (barring a waiver), so they're out.
The logic opponent, of course, is the Red Raiders. They're closest, come from what's considered a Power 5 conference and there's a history there. They'll also have to find a replacement for Arizona. There's one huge issue, though: both games are scheduled home games for the Texas teams. Would Tech be willing to bail on a game in Lubbock to play the Aggies again? A&M is not going to West Texas. That could cause the Aggies to look elsewhere.
But wait, there's more
The Aggies may have another scheduling hurdle: A&M has Fresno State on the schedule for Oct. 10. What if that game is knocked off due to the state of California saying the Bulldogs can't travel? Now you have a problem. The PAC will be in the teeth of its conference schedule, with only one non-conference game: Notre Dame will be hosting Stanford. Could the Aggies and Domers meet up at the last second? Again, with the Fighting Irish hosting a game, that seems very unlikely.
But there's Tech again.
The Red Raiders are off that weekend, giving the Aggies another opportunity to play their old foe. But that would mean 13 games for Tech -- unless they buy off Alabama State, their Sept. 12 foe. Again, though, that would require A&M and Tech to come to some kind of financial arrangement for Tech's loss of a home game.
Another possibility is even closer to home: Baylor. The Bears are also off Oct. 10, and have Incarnate Word on their schedule for Sept. 19. Would Baylor drop an FCS team in exchange for a game at A&M in a season where both teams think they have conference title (read: playoff) hopes? That, along with money, may be too much.
Some other teams with bye weeks (and FCS teams they could drop) Oct. 10: Georgia Tech, Virginia, Northwestern, Penn State (which also plays a California team Sept. 19), SMU, Memphis, Navy, Tulsa, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Old Dominion and UTSA.
Of those, ODU and UTSA seem like the most logical choices. Old Dominion could use the money and UTSA is close by. Neither would probably hesitate to drop a Hampton or a Grambling for a larger payday to come to Kyle Field.
Of the others, Georgia Tech is rebuilding and could need some cash. UVa probably won't make the trip. Northwestern might. Penn State thinks they can win it all, so they will not take the risk of playing the Aggies (and A&M probably wouldn't want to play them either).
But, it's always fun to speculate, isn't it?