Dooley: Hope is all we have when it comes to SEC football

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports
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The stories keep coming at us like mosquitoes on a hot summer night. We want to swat them away, but we know they will just keep swarming.

Positive tests continue to bring negative vibes. We can't wish away the virus no matter how hard we try and every hour it feels like Twitter is the bearer of bad news.

But we keep hoping.

Hoping for the answers we want to hear instead of the answers that are too depressing to comprehend.

This isn't about college football. Football is a sidebar. An important sidebar for the athletic departments and businesses who are already piling up red ink as if it were seeping underneath the doors.

We want college football to happen to take our minds off the carnage. There are always more important things in life than schedule releases, polls and Watch Lists in the preseason.

But it always comes back to why there are 76 teams getting ready for a season rather than what it will look like if they start playing.

So many of the things we look forward to will have to wait at least a year. 

Still, we have a job as sportswriters to look ahead in part because we don't want to look in the rear view mirror. 

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We know this won't be anything close to a "regular" regular season. So for one day, we'll stay away from the bad news and think about how this really could be something we'll talk about to our grandchildren even if we have to preface the conversation with the caveat about why it happened this way.

In theory, this could be the best season we've ever seen in the SEC.

There, I said it.

The 10-game season may not happen. Who knows how many games will be played? But if the conferences which chose to play make it through the gauntlet and there is an SEC Championship Game and a College Football Playoff, well, maybe we'll feel a little more whole again.

Maybe we'll get used to watching games with high school-like crowds and no bands or cheerleaders and fans being ejected from the stadium for not wearing masks. 


But if they play, what a glorious distraction it will be.

Let's just put aside the headlines for a minute and think about it.

There is actually a game scheduled to be played Saturday night on ESPN. Austin Peay at Central Arkansas. Quick, give me the nicknames of the two teams. 

But I will watch, because it's the first game of a football season teetering on the brink.

If we get to the SEC games that will be played, man, it's going to be something even if we are confined to our recliners. 

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At the same time, it's difficult to get too fired up without pausing to understand that if we are watching Georgia vs. Auburn in Week Two, we still don't know if there will be a Week Three.

It almost feels like the SEC basketball tournament. I went there ready to enjoy a full slate of games and saw all of one. After the first game, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey held a news conference to announce the tournament would proceed without fans.

The next day, the tournament, March Madness and almost everything else went away like paper in the wind. The day after that, everything was canceled. 

We made it through the difficulty of having no sports, then found ourselves watching golf tournaments we normally would miss. The NBA came back and then baseball and it feels like the NFL isn't skipping a beat.

But it's college football we crave here in Gainesville and other SEC villages. 

It could be a season for the ages with no cupcakes and so much must-see TV. 

We only know one thing for certain.

No matter what happens, we'll never forget it.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at

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