A JERSEY GUY: Fans Could be SEC's Biggest Obstacle

Mark Blaudschun

The players are ready.

So are the coaches.

And, Good-Gracious, so are the rabid, and, at times, irrational Southeastern Conference fans.

And that, folks, could be a major problem for SEC and Commissioner Greg Sankey who, thus far, has had a nearly flawless gameplan for starting the 2020 college football season.

The SEC has waited until this weekend to begin its season, which means that there have been no postponements  or cancelled games.

On Saturday that will change when the SEC begins an ALL CONFERENCE games season, with 10 games scheduled to be played over the next 12 weeks—so there is some wiggle room for COVID-19 disruptions.

If the SEC had played hard ball so to speak and said the games would be played in empty stadiums, I would feel more secure about what is about to unfold.

They haven't done that, setting up a system in which there will be a varying number of fans at the seven SEC sites playing games on Saturday.

The SEC has done everything it could to set up protocols designed to keeping everyone safe.

But these are college football fans. They are SEC college football fans, which means in many instances that issuing directives about wearing masks and social distancing during the game will probably be as effective as having students hide under their desks during a nuclear attack—as was actually done in the 1950s and 60s.

The danger is not during the games. The testing is now sophisticated enough to make it reasonably certain that no one participating in the game will have the COVID virus.

It is what happens in that brief window AFTER the game, on Saturday night or even on Sunday morning when the teams come out of whatever imposed "bubble'' the SEC coaches like Nick Saban have created.

And it could be something as casual as a hug from a family friend or relative after the game.

With as many as 20,000 people being part of the game-day scene in the SEC, the risks are off the chart.

I hope the SEC and Sankey continued to have it figured out. I hope that a week from now, the SEC will be playing another six-game conference schedule at full strength.

But I also look at the college football landscape, where a conference like the American Athletic Conference, which has spent both money and time putting together testing and protection procedures has four of its teams sidelined this week—Navy, Houston, Tulsa and South Florida—because of COVID-issues.

So let the (SEC) games begin and let's hope they can not only be played, but played in an environment which is safe.

Allowing fans into the stadiums for those games is a risk-reward issue that right now is not worth the risk.


Mark Blaudschun