The Southeastern Conference officially made the move to join most of the rest of the college football world on Thursday, slashing non-conference games and moving to a ten game league schedule. The move will delay the season’s start to the end of September, buying more time for the COVID-19 pandemic to potentially be more controlled.
It also buys more time for schools to develop a plan for hosting fans in the fall. As we grow closer to the fall, it’s become increasingly obvious that we won’t be seeing anywhere close to 100,000 fans in Neyland Stadium this year.
On Friday morning, Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer discussed where things currently stand in regards to attendance.
“I don’t think there’s any question there will be reductions,” Fulmer said on WNML. “I’m kind of holding out, hopeful that we can get the curve kind of turned back down. We’ve got maybe a month. And maybe even during the season it could continue to get better. We also know it could continue to get worse. I don’t want to put a number out there right now. We’re working on several models. We’ll listen to the state, multiple health departments, again our leadership on campus and everybody and we’ll come to the right place.”
Ohio State has already announced a plan to operate at 20 percent capacity, for reference.
Tennessee was set to open the season on September 5th against the Charlotte 49ers. That game, along with matchups against Oklahoma, Troy and Furman, have now been canceled. As things currently stand — subject to change, of course — the Volunteers would open the season on September 26th at home against the Florida Gators.
We’re waiting on word from the SEC on the additional two opponents, along with a new schedule. The only thing we know for sure is that Neyland Stadium is going to look very different this season.