Now that we have an idea of the template for the SEC’s football season, we have more reasons to keep going with the ever-popular Fact or Fiction. Today, the Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu will debate the possibilities for Florida as we await the release of the actual schedule.
Auburn, which is the closest school in terms of geography to Gainesville, will be back on Florida’s schedule for the second straight season.
Andreu: Auburn makes a lot of sense because it’s, what, only about a four-and-a-half hour drive from Gainesville? But it’s obvious after Scott Stricklin’s Zoom call with the media Thursday that the league is not going to base the new schedule on proximity. The league is looking to balance the schedule so it’s fair for everyone. It would not be fair for Auburn to pick up Florida from the East. The Tigers already have Georgia and the rest of the West on their schedule, which is brutal enough. I have a strong feeling Alabama is going to end up on UF’s schedule. FICTION.
Dooley: If we are buying what the SEC is selling, the two teams that are added to Florida’s schedule will be fair to the Gators just as it will try to balance out all of the schedule’s in the SEC. So Florida will get one team that will be pretty good and Auburn would qualify. Clearly, though, there doesn’t seem to be as many concerns about geography considering that Tallahassee is two hours away. But I digress. Because the two teams played last year and the league seems to have this weird phobia about certain teams reaching across the division too often and because it makes too much sense … FICTION.
Florida will still play its first SEC game against Kentucky, except that it will be on Sept. 26 and it will be the season opener.
Andreu: Florida is scheduled to play at Tennessee on that date, so why change it? There’s no real reason to. So, let the Gators go ahead and open their season in Neyland Stadium and move Kentucky to a later date in the revamped schedule. The UK game is going to be in Gainesville, so weather (cold weather, that is) shouldn’t be a factor. Hey, look at it this way if you’re Dan Mullen: opening the season at UT should be a great motivator to carry through preseason camp. FICTION.
Dooley: As we know, former UF athletic director Jeremy Foley a long time ago fought to keep this from being a cold weather game which is why it was scheduled early again — Sept. 12 originally. Of course, the game is in Gainesville and cold weather will not be a factor. Still, I think this game will kick it off for the Gators because there is no reason for it not to open the season. It would be the second time ever that it has happened, UF winning 35-19 in 1992, Steve Spurrier’s third season. I just don’t see any reason to move it to later in the season even though the Tennessee game was originally scheduled for Sept. 26, opening day. FACT.
Because the SEC decided to stay with divisions, the league will frontload the new schedule with division games to make sure as many are played as possible.
Andreu: The SEC doesn’t do this during a normal season. Granted, this isn’t going to be a normal season, but the bottom line is every SEC game — whether cross division or within the division — count the same in the standings. And, if there are cancellations, how are we going to crown a legit champion at the end of the year? With all the things the league has had to deal with, this can’t be a priority. In fact, I think you’re going to see a lot of these crossover games early in the season before teams dive deep into division play. FICTION.
Dooley: I’m sure this is a topic of serious discussion in Birmingham. This is something that all conferences will consider because you want your division champ to be a true division champ if games have to be canceled later in the season. But the SEC likes to sprinkle the division games into the middle of the schedule as a rule and may feel strongly about Alabama-Tennessee (as an example) still playing on the third Saturday in October. And yet, tradition seems to be taking this season off. FACT.