Blake Dowling: Are you ready for some college football?
Football in the COVID-19 era will soon begin.

Football Helmet Wearing Mask With Chalkboard Background and Copy Space
Cheers to everyone out there who are trying to get it done, safely and peacefully while respecting each other.

Monday night, I watched nearly the entire BYU-Navy game; my pick as a 1-point underdog was Navy.

Another reminder why I do not gamble: the final score of BYU (55) Navy (3) had me going the wrong way. It’s a good thing sports handicapping is not my craft.

Why did I watch the whole thing as it was not a competitive match? There was also not a single fan in the crowd, unlike some other games so far that had up to 25% capacity.

I watched it because it is college football.

For those who love it, it’s more than an institution; it’s like a huge Bear Bryant tattoo on your arm. It’s part of you.

From growing up in a “Bear Bryant should be President household” — both of my grandfather’s went to ‘Bama, plus mom, plus Uncle Steve who actually played for the Bear.

In fact, Steve Bowman was the leading rusher for two SEC Championship and National Championship teams in 1964 and 1965. He was not only a football legend but (most importantly) he was a heck of a nice guy and an exceptionally good man.

You can read more about Bowman here; may he continue to rest in peace.

Roll Tide to all my ‘Bama cousins and family out there in Centerville, Ozark, Dothan and other LA communities (lower Alabama).

You can also learn more about a charity that Steve founded here.

#30 in action; running over the competition. Roll Tide! Image via the Bowman family.

While I found my own way after high school to the University of Florida vs. ‘Bama, I still love both programs, though the Gators are #1.

Why the switch to UF? I blame the Smith family, the Rushing family, LaFace family, Coach Steve Spurrier, and specifically the SAE fraternity house (and then the ATO house).

One weekend in Gainesville with Jay Smith and his brother Kevin and the move to lifelong Gator Nation allegiance was in place. It was a bond as strong as right itself.

As these first few games start rolling in 2020 and the ACC kicks off, what in the world is next for the sport?

In the Sunshine State, UF is offering special packages in 2020 to boosters to sit with Coach Spurrier at a game, go fishing with the Hoops coach, and FSU is selling beers in the stands to try and get folks in the seats. Who would have ever thought the ACC and SEC would be on the same page.

For a laugh, I suggest watching this (courtesy of the SEC Network).

Each year I write something about football; usually, there is an emphasis on tech. My go-to apps for college football are ESPN and theScore; between the two, you can get everything you need fast.

But looking at the current landscape, then looking ahead, there is a lot to ponder besides tech and a love of the game.

How will 2020 affect the sport both now and in the future, assuming we get through this fall and the long term?

Will we see the shift continue toward more people not wanting to go to games, which was already an issue before the pandemic?

Or will the scare of almost-not-having-a-season remind everyone the awesomeness of the sport, getting fans back in the stands?

In loving the all-SEC schedule, I am not alone. With no out-of-conference cupcakes on the calendar, every game is a must-see, must-watch contest. Perhaps having a more competitive slate will get the people back in booster status.

While Townsend-UF was fun in the opening weeks of last year, it was only that way because we had a house in Gainesville with some awesome people (Bryan as MVP and Mandy as Mrs. MVP) as well as an epic tailgate.

In 2020, there will be no epic tailgating in Gainesville or Tallahassee, but there will be games. Florida opens on the road against Ole Miss. Wow. With Lane in charge over there, they are certainly going to be on the way up.

Meanwhile, as you read this, the Noles are getting ready to kick off against the Yellow Jackets. I am ready.

As the SEC shorts video shown above, the powers that be had to try to get this season off the ground.

The amount of time these young student-athletes invest in their sport is staggering; the average college athlete had a very different collegiate experience from mine.

Check out this average day from the Next College Student-Athlete.

This is the dream shot for these kids, and a dream job for a lot of these coaches; so for us fans, this is also our favorite pastime (sorry baseball).

The sport of college football draws us together as a community and it comes at the perfect time.

Also, yes, it is a business as well as a wonderful positive for the local economies when our state’s teams are ranked and not playing at noon.

Will people remember how much they love it, or will they retreat to their outdoor televisions, never to be heard from again?

It is a challenging time for lots of businesses in our state, college football is one of those. I have a feeling that by simply trying, people will remember the ACC and SEC fondly, even if it doesn’t go the whole season. We are a nation of people that want to do everything we can to make something happen, to at least try.

I hope the players and fans (who attend these 20% capacity matchups) stay safe; I am ready for Saturday’s line up and more excited than I should be to watch FSU-Georgia Tech.

As cases spike around Tallahassee this week, will it affect the game, the season, the program, fan attendance?

We shall see.

And as I said earlier, cheers to everyone out there who are trying to get it done, safely and peacefully while respecting each other.

Thank you to all the legends out there: Coaches like Coach Spurrier, Coach Bryant, Coach Bowden, and players like Tim Tebow, Warrick Dunn, Steve Bowman and so many others who built college football into something wonderful that we all can enjoy as a state and nation each and every year — even in the swirling boondoggle mess of 2020.

Cheers to it, enjoy your game day and may our stadiums in Florida and Alabama be full once again come 2021.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, the host of the Biz & Tech podcast and he writes for several organizations.

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at www.aegisbiztech.com



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