I wasn’t surprised when Auburn officials announced plans for opening the football season with a maximum of just 20 percent of the seats being used at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It was a little bit surprising that the decision was made to allocate almost all of the game one seats for students, although the seating plan is subject to change for the other four home games on the 2020 schedule.
As Executive Associate Athletic Director Tim Jackson points out, conditions regarding the covid-19 outbreak could change between now and Dec. 5th, which is the final game on the home schedule with Texas A&M set to visit. Not going with one rigid plan regarding attendance for the entire season and being ready to switch to better ways of doing things is a good idea.
It will be interesting to see what type of homefield advantage, if any, the Tigers have on Sept. 26th when Kentucky visits for game one. If the Tigers hit one-fifth capacity on the nose, that is just 17,490 fans.
As we have seen from the Super7 high school state championship games, crowds of that size, and even smaller, can make a good bit of noise at Jordan-Hare. However, in those situations crowds were not “socially distanced” as will be the case for the Kentucky game with fans scattered throughout the lower and upper decks.
From the notebook:
• Coach Gus Malzahn’s football team isn’t going to be counting on a large number of seniors this season. Only three of those guys are on the initial list of NFL prospects who could receive invitations to the 2021 Senior Bowl in Mobile. That trio of Tigers is from the defensive side of the ball, with Tyrone Truesdell at tackle, Big Kat Bryant at end and K.J. Britt at middle linebacker.
• Football recruiting has been very different and challenging for college coaches with no summer camps, no off-campus evaluations so far this year plus a ban on official and unofficial visits scheduled to run at least through the end of September. Despite those issues, the Tigers have managed to line up 14 prospects for their 2021 class with one of the recent ones coming from within walking distance of FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium.
Ahmari Harvey, a four-star safety at Florida State University School in Tallahassee, chose the Tigers over hometown FSU, Texas A&M and others. He heads into his senior season with 310 tackles and 13 pass interceptions in three varsity seasons.
• The first AP Top 25 poll came out this week ranking Auburn at No. 11, the same spot the Tigers were listed when the USA Today Coaches Poll came out the first week in August. The AP ranking includes Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, but the plan is to eliminate those squads from the next polling period because they opted out of playing this fall, something that has been more than a little controversial, especially in the Big Ten.
Clemson of the ACC is No. 1 with Ohio State at No. 2. The Buckeyes are one of a half dozen Big Ten teams in the AP Top 25 with Penn State at No. 7, Wisconsin 12th, Michigan 16th, Minnesota 19th and Iowa 24th. Pac-12 teams in the poll are Oregon at No. 9, Southern Cal at 17th and Utah at 22nd. Of the teams scheduled to play, Auburn is ranked No. 8 in the AP poll.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter