By Zack Steele
So at this point we can all pretty much agree that 2020 has been a big ole stinker of a year. In January, many of my eye care colleagues deemed 2020 “the year of the optometrist”. It is September, and I can safely attest that 2020 is not the year of the optometrist because people don’t go to the optometrist to get kicked in the groin repeatedly.
But 2020 has afforded SEC football fans a unique opportunity: a 10 game all SEC schedule. No Louisiana Monroes rolling up in their yella school bus to play in Auburn or Athens or Tuscaloosa. No Chattanoogas, no Arkansas States, No Georgia States. Tennessee is thankful for that last one.
Week one games include Kentucky at Auburn, Florida headed up to Ole Miss to take on Lane Kiffin and the Rebel Black bears/Land Sharks, Bama heading up to take on Missouri, and a night cap of Tennessee at South Carolina.
Week 2 features Texas A&M at Alabama and Auburn heading between the hedges to renew the South’s oldest rivalry with Georgia.
Great matchups will take place all year. It will be survival of the fittest, and with a global pandemic that really rings true this year. Game planning every week for a tough opponent while attempting to keep players from contracting COVID will be a tall task. It will be the most challenging year any coach in this league has ever faced.
And there are so many unknowns. Will Alabama return to national championship form with Mac Jones? How does LSU replace so many weapons including a quarterback who had arguably the best single season in history? Will Bo Nix improve in a revamped offense? Can Auburn bind and gag Gus Malzahn when the offense has the ball so the new offensive coordinator can call plays unhindered?
That last question is more of a request from me.
The new schedule was of course met with trepidation from some schools. Texas A&M now gets Tennessee and Florida, while Arkansas gets Georgia and Florida. Arkansas folks were quite vocal in their displeasure over the tough schedule, which is also known as Auburn’s 2019 schedule, but I digress.
Another looming question is how much will home field advantage matter? Twenty Thousand in Jordan-Hare or Bryant-Denny or the Swamp won’t be nearly the same. Will we see more home teams go down when every home field becomes the equivalent of Vanderbilt? Will Nick Saban go on an angry tirade when 5000 fans leave in the 3rd quarter of the Mississippi State game?
So many unknowns, yet so much possibility for entertainment. I, for one, am very excited about the COVID Dream Season. Here’s hoping they get to finish it.