When the Big Ten canceled its non-conference season last week and the Pac-12 followed suit, this became the easiest prediction in the game.
It just makes too much sense. Those leagues are so intertwined and have so much to gain by working in concert that it feels -- from my chair as someone who doesn't have to actually do the work of figuring the logistics out -- like a cinch.
-- There's nothing more inherently dangerous about a non-conference game than a conference game; in fact, as referenced in the tweet above, Clemson-South Carolina would actually be safer than, say, Florida-Missouri, Miami-Syracuse or Texas Tech-West Virginia.
-- The SEC and ACC have four intrastate rivalries to protect -- Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville.
-- The Big 12 and SEC have a couple of important non-conference tilts worth preserving in Texas at LSU and Tennessee at Oklahoma, both on Sept. 12. Furthermore, both leagues lost two games, in identical weeks, when the Pac-12 went conference-only: TCU and Alabama in Week 1 and Texas Tech and Texas A&M in Week 3.
As I said, there's so much to be gained by working in concert that collaboration seems to be the natural end game here.
On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated reported that SEC athletics directors discussed that very topic in Monday's all-hands meeting in Birmingham.
Barring a full, 12-game schedule, three models emerged as strong possibilities with league power brokers: an eight-game conference-only schedule and a nine or 10-game plan that would preserve at least one scheduled matchup with a Power 5 conference program.
Obviously, games with Big Ten and Pac-12 opponents are off the table, leaving only the ACC and Big 12. (Arkansas has a Sept. 12 trip to Notre Dame, and Missouri hosts BYU on Oct. 10. Neither of those games are in any imminent danger.)
Any sort of team-up would hinge on the SEC, since that league is the common thread between the Big 12 and ACC.
Indeed, the SEC stands as the center of gravity for all of football south of the NFL -- the executive director of Louisiana's high school association told local radio he's waiting to see what the SEC does before making a move.
Given the stakes involved, the SEC's impending decision later this month stands as the most consequential for the entire amateur sports industry in, well, perhaps ever.