Stricklin: No Conversations About Moving Florida-Georgia From Jacksonville
A tradition like none other, the annual "Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party", otherwise known as Florida-Georgia, will remain in Jacksonville (Fla.) at least for now as the overall landscape of collegiate sports in the fall is pondered.
In speaking to reporters on a Zoom video conference call yesterday, Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin spoke about a myriad of issues surrounding the resumption, or continuation of collegiate athletics taking place in the fall. Of course, with football being one of the more popular sports for the university and within the country, the topics were slanted in that area.
While the SEC has yet to come to any decisions regarding how they'll proceed this fall, several pro teams have already decided under which circumstances they'll be proceeding in, especially when it comes to fans in attendance. As of right now, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing in front of only 25% of the capacity at TIAA Bank Field.
This also happens to be the home of the Florida-Georgia contest. Stricklin made it clear that while no decisions or conversations have been made he did see the news last week. "I’m sure that’s something that if we get to the point where we’re playing that game there (TIAA Bank Field) that we would try and use as appropriate depending on where we are in the process and what the requirements are," said Stricklin.
"We really haven’t had any conversations about moving it to campus. our hope is to be able to play the game and to be able to play it in Jacksonville in some form.”
With cases rising all across the country, and specifically in the state of Florida recently, there is a chance that if games are to be played this season, it may come with as few travel opportunities as possible. If that's the case, then the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville (Fla.) could very well be in doubt, however, as of right now, it's still on as planned.
Even at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, 'The Swamp', attendance could look a lot different, if there are any fans at all. Stricklin says if they were to have fans and if they were to adhere to a six-foot physical-distancing plan, the numbers would look to be around 15-20,000 or potentially 25,000 stadium capacity, a stark difference from the 90,000 allowed currently.
The priorities at the University of Florida, and with Stricklin, is with the safety of the students and student-athletes that will be attending the university. With that, comes plenty of testing and procedures which have been laid out not only by UF's Health and Safety board but by its president Kent Fuchs. Last week, Florida released its plan for the fall semester.
As for the athletics side of things, cases of the coronavirus are popping up fairly consistently, however, as of right now everything has been controlled as best as possible. While UF may have its own plan and procedures for testing and protocols in place to deal with them, it will be vital for all 14 SEC programs to remain on the same page, delivering a fairly uniform set of standards.
That much, Stricklin says, was brought up during the conference's meeting on Monday.
“Well, we did spend a lot of time talking about that because that's obviously one of the important answers we need to have if we're going to move forward to where we are at the point where we're playing games," Stricklin said candidly. Ultimately, those decisions on uniform procedures will come down to the conference's medical board.
"We probably need a few more eyes to look at that before we are able to talk about that more publicly. But yeah, that's going to be really important. How are we all going test? What's that protocol going to look like? But then the other challenge is what access do people have to the testing it would take to be able to fulfill those protocols."
UF is home to one of the best health programs in the country, UF Health. Because of that, they have some of the best access to testing, test-result speed and treatment, which not all universities in the SEC will have access to. It will be important for all programs to have clear methods to raise their standards to whatever will ultimately be decided on, before the resumption of play.
With plenty of obstacles in the way of fall athletics, there is still much to be gathered, and a decision is still not yet to be made, and won't be until the end of July.