JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The SEC going with an all-conference schedule leaves one major hole for the Florida Gators.
No Florida State in 2020.
The rivalry began in 1958. COVID-19 is forcing it to take a year off.
“We wanted to play our in-state rival but for all the talk about that, we got a pandemic going on,” said University of Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. “This is totally changing what normal is.”
The good news for area fans is that the annual clash in Jacksonville between Florida and Georgia remains on schedule for Oct. 31 at TIAA Bank Field, if conditions are safe enough to play it.
“I anticipate that game staying in Jacksonville and staying on that same date,” Stricklin said.
He later added: “I try not to use the word never or ever, but you know, our intention and hope, and from talking to Greg [McGarity] at Georgia, his hope is that we play that game in Jacksonville.”
The loss of nonconference games was tough news for SEC fans.
It eliminates games like Georgia-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina and the Gators and Seminoles. Stricklin said that he wanted to keep that rivalry intact, but COVID-19 wouldn’t allow it.
A full SEC schedule will be released in the coming weeks, the conference said. Florida is currently scheduled to play the six SEC East teams, plus LSU and Ole Miss from the SEC West.
With the start date moving back to Sept. 26, Stricklin said that the SEC simply ran out of time to go out of conference.
“Once you do that, you have 11 Saturdays left to play 10 conference games. We ran out of Saturdays,” Stricklin said. “And so from the decision to delay was based on safety and health of, you know, our campuses, based on the guidance we’re all getting from health officials. And you know it’s just a function of where we ended up because of the way the schedule worked out.”
Stricklin said that Florida is at a stage currently where no athletes are positive or quarantining for COVID-19.