University of Tennessee planning for ‘normal’ football season

Orange and White Nation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee is planning for a “normal” football season.
The athletics department sent a statement Thursday:

“Our approach is to plan for a ‘normal’ football season this fall while continuing to monitor the pandemic and the progress of the vaccine rollout and remaining prepared to pivot as necessary. We’ll continue to prioritize health and safety as we develop responsible plans for the fall.”

Tom Satkowiak, UT athletics department spokesman

One self-proclaimed Vol “super fan” says he’s looking forward to normal at Neyland Stadium. Earl Brown has been to over 500 volunteer football games and he didn’t miss one, even when the pandemic began. But he says this past season just wasn’t the same.

“This year was just to me was a disaster,” Brown said. “I made all 10 games home and away but sitting by yourself in a stadium for most of those games, it was just not really a fun season at all.”

All of that is about to change — maybe. UT athletics says they’re aiming for a “normal” football season this fall. The fans are just hoping their definition of “normal” matches up with the school’s.

“Normal means to me pre Covid. Hoping to have over 100,000 people in the stadium, no restrictions on how large tailgate parties can be. The band is on the field, cheerleaders are on the field, Smokey is on the field,” Brown said.

For someone who has been to the last 303 games in a row, the new changes haven’t been easy. Even though Brown is ready to get back to his normal, he’s approaching with caution.

“We’ve had our first vaccine, we get the second one March 18 so after that we’ll feel a little bit better. Hopefully everyone will get their vaccines and at that time I think we can feel safe,” Brown said.

We have reached out to UT to see if plans for a “normal” season means having full capacity at Neyland Stadium. We are still waiting to hear back from the university.

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