By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
Each day more conferences and teams make their decisions on the upcoming 2020 college football season because of COVID-19. Most of the power five conferences like the SEC and the Big Ten are making teams play conference-only games with ten games. Other conferences like the Sun Belt Conference are looking to keep their 12-game format.
The South Alabama Jaguars are among many teams that had to adjust their schedule with non-conference play. On July 20th, the Southwestern Athletic Conference announced their plans to cancel their fall competition in favor of the spring. This forced the Grambling State Tigers to cancel their matchup with the Jaguars’ first home game of the season in the 2020 season. This would have been the first-ever game in Hancock Whitney Stadium, South Alabama’s new on-campus football stadium.
There were many opponents that the Jaguars could replace Grambling State with the first home game of the season. They found their replacement in the Tulane Green Wave, a group-of-five opponent in the American Athletic Conference. The Green Wave was set to travel to Evanston, Illinois to face the Northwestern Wildcats in the second week of the season. This was until the Big Ten Conference canceled their non-conference matchups on July 9th due to the pandemic. The Conference are reportedly canceling their football season overall this fall.
The Jaguars and the Green Wave had previously arranged a three-game meeting in 2023 and 2026 in New Orleans and the 2025 matchup in Mobile. This will be the second-ever matchup between South Alabama and Tulane. The Jaguars defeated the Green Wave on September 7th, 2013 with a 41-39 score in New Orleans.
The addition of the Tulane Green Wave was not the only game that was altered for the South Alabama Jaguars’ 2020 schedule. The Jaguars were set to travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to take on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on September 5th. That game has been moved to Thursday, September 3rd, two days before the originally scheduled matchup. This is one of eight Thursday matchups in division one football. This year’s matchup will be the first of a two-game home and home series with next year’s matchup being at Hancock Whitney Stadium.
The Jaguars are no strangers to games being played on the weekdays, especially on Thursdays. South Alabama has played nine games on Thursdays in their 11 years as a football program. They have a record of 5-4 on Thursdays with their latest victory coming in 2015 with a 35-25 win over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns. The last Thursday matchup for the Jaguars was last season when they lost at home to the Georgia Southern Eagles with a 20-17 score in double overtime.
South Alabama also scheduled to play the #8 Florida Gators in Gainesville, Florida in week three of the season. The SEC Conference canceled their non-conference football matchups on August 5th, thus negating the matchup between South Alabama and Florida.
The Jaguars are allowed to schedule a new opponent for week three due to the Sun Belt Conference’s determination to keep a 12-game format for their teams. It appears at this time that the football program will remain with 11-games as they will host the UAB Blazers the following week.
The football program also announced their intentions to limit fan attendance for their home games for the 2020 season due to the impact of the coronavirus. South Alabama will only allow an attendance ratio of 25% of the stadium’s capacity, which is about 6,250 fans. The program also announced that there will be no tailgating in September and potentially looking into the remaining months of the season.