Closer to 'Football time in Tennessee'

Posted 8/2/20

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Closer to 'Football time in Tennessee'

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Well, the wait is over — more or less. And in the words of the late, great John Ward, "It's football time in Tennessee" — almost.

 

The Southeastern Conference announcement Thursday of a 10-game, all conference football schedule at least provided some clarity as to which direction the 2020 season is headed.

 

To be sure, it’s headed into uncharted waters.

 

The SEC season is set for a Sept. 26 start with the championship game pushed back two weeks to Dec. 19, in Atlanta.

 

Currently, the league is working to retool the schedule that will have two more SEC opponents than usual. In a normal season, the Volunteers and the rest of the SEC would play an eight-game conference schedule with four out of conference games. But, as we all know, this is not a normal season.

 

Each team will have have an off week midseason and the entire SEC will take a break Dec. 12.

 

The overall SEC schedule does have its downside as some traditional out of conference rivalries will not be played. The annual Georgia-Georgia Tech game, that has been played for the last 95 years and the South Carolina Clemson matchup that began in 1909, will be lost to the pandemic. 

 

"We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in the SEC release. "It is regrettable that some of our traditional non-conference rivalries cannot take place in 2020 under this plan, but these are unique, and hopefully temporary, circumstances that call for unconventional measures."

 

Gone from the Volunteers' schedule are Charlotte, Oklahoma, Furman and Troy. The other two SEC teams to be added to the schedule have yet to be named, and the full schedule is currently under development by the league.

 

In a statement released by the Tennessee athletics department Thursday, UT athletics director Phillip Fulmer said the SEC did the sensible thing in going to an all conference schedule with the health and safety of the student athletes a top priority as they work toward competition. 

 

“A tremendous amount of thought and discussion went into making what we believe is a responsible decision on scheduling format, and it's exciting to be making progress toward competition,” Fulmer said in the statement. “Our student-athletes and coaches are working hard to prepare while prioritizing health and safety. There are still several logistical unknowns, but we appreciate Vol Nation being patient and sticking with us as we continue to work through these unique circumstances.”

 

The University is also looking into how it plans to get fans into Neyland Stadium. Fulmer said in the statement attendance numbers could change from week to week, and UT will work closely with state and local officials. A 20-25% capacity is being floated, but no one really knows what the numbers will be. There has been no word on whether or not tailgating will be allowed.

 

“This underscores the importance of the public practicing healthy habits statewide,” Fulmer's announcement read.

 

In other words people, wear a mask, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing. It’s not that hard. just do it so the Volunteers and our high school teams can play football and soccer this fall. If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for them.

 

 

The good news is, however, it appears there will be Tennessee Volunteers football in the fall — at least for awhile.

Richard Roberts is Sports Editor at the Cleveland Daily Banner. Write him at richard.roberts@clevelandbanner.com

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