First, The Ivy League canceled all fall sports. Then, the Big Ten — Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State — decided to cancel all nonconference football games.
Will the SEC — conference of the Florida Gators — and the ACC — conference of FSU and Miami — soon follow?
We spoke to college fans in Southwest Florida Friday, who are nervous about what all three state universities could decide for a potential fall season. Among them is fear changes could mean the elimination of state rivalry games at the very least.
If a college football season does kick off later this year, fans still likely won’t be in attendance.
“There’s adversity in the game of football,” said Fred Johnson, a former Florida Gators football player. “And, as an athlete, you overcome a lot of adversities throughout your career.”
But no college football at all would be devastating for players and fans alike.
“Given what we’ve all been through, you know, just yearning for sports, we just want to get back to see some normalcy in our lives,” said Scott Toth, the president of the Seminole Club of Naples and a season ticket holder. “And football obviously help us get there.”
“It’s really saddening, especially with it being my senior year,” said Tre’Vaughn Howard, who attends UM.
“I cannot imagine going through this,” Johnson said. “I still can’t imagine going through this now, being in the league and stuff like that. It’s a lot.”
Currently, the Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes remain set to participate in a college football season. But, after the Big Ten cut out any nonconference games, other big conferences, such as the SEC and ACC could follow with the same decision. That would eliminate the possibility of a state rivalry game between the ‘Noles and the Gators.
“It’s just, I can’t really put it into words,” Howard said. “Words can’t really describe the emotions.”
Restaurants are in Southwest Florida are also nervous about the outcome for the start of the season, as many depend on college football fans to fill their businesses on game day. After already losing out on major league sports most of the year, losing college football would add another blow to business.
“I think the big one would be Florida right?” Toth said. “We lose our rivalry game.”
Johnson and others hold onto hope the Gators will play its conference schedule if nothing more. The ACC is already considering dropping its non-conference schedule. The SEC is expected to consider the same move Monday.
“It’s going to put a lot more pressure on the teams winning in their conference, you know, just trying to become bowl eligible with nonconference games,” Johnson said.