JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Less than 24 hours now till SEC football returns. But game day will be different both in and out of the stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The countdown to kickoff has had a slower than usual start. But College Corner has noticed excitement building.
“Starting this Monday, we have seen an uptick," said owner Scott Werne. "We can tell it’s football time. There’s a football game this weekend and we’ve seen the fans. We’ve seen people come in. So, there’s not nearly what it was this time last year but it has been a significant uptick for us this year.”
Werne says new coaches leading the teams is also lending a hand to the hype.
“The enthusiasm before the season with the new coaches was sky high and that is very much a positive right now," described Werne. "If this had happened in 2019, it would be even worse because the enthusiasm for those teams wasn’t as high as it is now.”
Tailgating on campus won’t be allowed at any state school this season.
“So, we’ve kind of had to pivot," noted Werne. "More cups and mugs and games and things for family and friends to do around the house this year.”
And Broad Street Bakery typically stays busy with fans taking trays to Starkville and Oxford.
“We’re waiting," said general manager Michael Thomas. "We’re just waiting. We’re hoping. We’re crossing our fingers that football saves it all.”
Oxford will be the first of the two college towns to find out what game day looks like without on-campus tailgate.
“It’s going to be unique for us,” said Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen. “We are staffing it like we would any normal football game.”
They’ll have downtown patrols but won’t count guests at house parties, for example, unless they get a complaint call. They’ve worked to get the message out early.
“You will have a lot of people that travel in that could be coming from Florida or other states to see the game and their laws may be different than ours," McCutchen said. "So, it will be a discussion and just making sure people help us get what we need for those few hours.”