Cecil Hurt: We finally have a 2020 SEC schedule and that's a positive step toward football
The Southeastern Conference 2020 football schedule was unmasked – no, wait, change that to “unveiled”before a fight breaks out – on Monday.
In a search for positivity, that’s a positive, a benchmark that many people have been waiting to see, a life preserver to which they can cling on the tempestuous seas of “will they or won’t they play football?” Not only was it reassuring but it is unlikely – nothing is impossible, but it unlikely – that the SEC will do a 180-degree reverse in the next four days as some conferences have done.
Not every question is answered. Will the other Power 5 leagues that currently plan to play, the Big 12 and the ACC, hold firm? If there are games, what will be the “significantly reduced” attendance levels that Greg Byrne has referenced and how deeply will those restrictions cut into the Tuscaloosa economy? There is always the chance of scientific advancement between now and mid-September, as there is a chance of bad statistical news.
There is something else that many people in the wide SEC region will be glad to see, more glad than many people realize. At least the perception will be that the SEC did not simply fold its cards because the Big Ten pushed in all its chips as quickly as it could. Ultimately, the Big Ten decision may prove right or wrong, but there are many, many people in the SEC geography who do not like being told what to do by people who don’t live here. This sentiment goes back far beyond the arrival of the coronavirus. It has led to bad decisions at times, unquestionably, but it is part of the very complex equation that has gone into this decision.
The NCAA has also chimed in, and lots of people don’t like to hear from them either, but that’s not a geographical issue. If anything unites the nation, it is disdain for the NCAA. That may not be fair, but it is a fact.
The 2020 season itself – can we talk about the season as a real entity for a moment? – should be fascinating. The schedule is part of that. It won’t please everyone and there will probably be more bickering on next week’s coaching teleconference. A good rule of thumb is that all 14 SEC coaches will never be in 100 percent harmony on anything because they are highly competitive and not highly trusting.
For now, there is a positive. We can talk about it and debate it and fans can even be at each others' throats about it, because that’s the psychological release we get from sports. There has been an Alabama vs. Georgia debate raging for the entire off-season, and that is, in its way, healthy. Normally, the off-season consists of nine months of hope, wild optimism and the microscopic dissection of every potential flaw on the other team’s roster, coaching staff and even their uniforms.
The season still isn’t here. The novel coronavirus still hasn’t gone away, or changed its unthinking purpose. But for everyone’s mental health, let’s hope that nine months of off-season flexing about which team is better doesn’t go to waste.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt