Thanks to COVID-19, Tennessee Football’s home-field advantage in Neyland Stadium could disappear this football season.
When you think of college football, you think of the Saturday afternoon atmosphere, the loud student section, the rivalries, the home-field advantage, and so much more. Tennessee football hasn’t lacked any of that in recent years, but that could change this fall.
It’s looking like college football will be played this fall, but it might not be the same college football that we’re used to. If fans are allowed in college football stadiums, they could be forced to social distance which means only a certain number of tickets can be sold.
Madison Blevins of WBIR out of Knoxville put this into perspective with a graphic of what Neyland Stadium could look like for Tennessee home games this fall.
Blevins specifically pointed out that Neyland Stadium could be at 16% capacity due to social distancing with a maximum of 35% capacity leaving roughly 16,000 to 35,000 fans inside Neyland Stadium this fall.
If this is the case this fall, then home-field advantage is dead this college football season. I think the NFL might be able to get away with this because, for a handful of NFL stadiums, there isn’t much of a home-field advantage anyway, but taking fans out of the game will definitely change the game and probably some game plans in college football.
If you’re going on the road to an SEC rival like Florida, Georgia, or Alabama, then you’re going in knowing that the crowd is probably going to be loud, so you plan around that. With the crowd unable to make an impact on college football games in 2020, then it could change how some games are played.
I know we’re still a long ways away from Tennessee’s first game of the season against Charlotte, but it’s still a possibility in the name of public safety. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NCAA or SEC put something like this in place because no one wants to be the league to ruin football for everyone.