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Tiger fans Chloe Lefeaux, left, and Michael Creel, right, howl their approval, as Auburn's defeat of Alabama in a hot SEC matchup is announced during the Texas A&M game at Tiger Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.

Will SEC football be played in front of hundreds of thousands of fans during the 2021 season? Optimism abounds, but it's unclear how that will become reality as the coronavirus pandemic continues around the nation.

Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne was the latest to state that the Crimson Tide are preparing as if a packed house of 102,321 will be inside Bryant-Denny Stadium when they host Mercer on Sept. 11.

"We are moving forward with plans to have a full stadium in the fall," Byrne posted to social media on Tuesday, "and will monitor medical guidelines as we have all along."

In all, seven of the 14 Southeastern Conference programs have stated publicly they're moving ahead in anticipation of full stadiums. Those have come through statements by school officials or documentation on the program websites. The other seven haven't indicated their plans, but none have committed to reduced capacities

Vanderbilt was the lone SEC program to not allow the public in any capacity during the 2020 season. The other 13 programs hosted fans at capacities ranging from 20 to 25 percent. LSU hosted a maximum of 25,000 fans at Tiger Stadium for its 2020 home games, but Athletic Director Scott Woodward was among those expressing confidence for 102,000-plus and full tailgating on hand when football returns to Baton Rouge again.

"I’m very optimistic about that," Woodward said in February. "I follow this COVID closely, and I like what I’m seeing from our state, from our local officials, from the federal government – all hands on deck. ... Everyone out there needs to get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to some sense of normalcy. And I’m hoping in an optimistic way, we can get back to some of that, summer and definitely into the fall that we can have full stadiums."

Scroll below for a rundown of the seven teams that have indicated a return to full capacity and the seven that have not indicated their plans.


LSU

  • WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • MAX CAPACITY: 102,321
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 25,000
  • 2021 PLANS: AD Scott Woodward “very optimistic” for full capacity in 2021; no official plan announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs McNeese State, Sept. 11 

ALABAMA

  • WHERE: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • MAX CAPACITY: 101,821
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 20,546 (20 percent)
  • 2021 PLANS: Planning return to full capacity; no official plan announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Mercer, Sept. 11

TENNESSEE

  • WHERE: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • MAX CAPACITY: 102,455
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 25,614 (25 percent)
  • 2021 PLANS: None announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Bowling Green, Sept. 4

TEXAS A&M

  • WHERE: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
  • MAX CAPACITY: 102,733
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 20,364 (20 percent)
  • 2021 PLANS: Planning return to full capacity
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Kent State, Sept. 4

GEORGIA

  • WHERE: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
  • MAX CAPACITY: 92,746
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 23,186 (25%)
  • 2021 PLANS: UGA “anticipating a full capacity stadium”; no official plan announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. UAB, Sept. 11

VANDERBILT

  • WHERE: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
  • MAX CAPACITY: 39,790
  • 2020 CAPACITY: no fans (limited student attendance)
  • 2021 PLANS: None announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. East Tennessee State, Sept. 4

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KENTUCKY


SOUTH CAROLINA

  • WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, South Carolina
  • MAX CAPACITY: 80,250
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 20,000
  • 2021 PLANS: None announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Eastern Illinois, Sept. 4

MISSOURI

  • WHERE: Faurot Field, Columbia, Missouri
  • MAX CAPACITY: 62,621
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 12,524 (20 percent)
  • 2021 PLANS: None announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Central Michigan, Sept. 4

ARKANSAS

  • WHERE: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • MAX CAPACITY: 76,000
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 17,000
  • 2021 PLANS: Planning return to full capacity, AD says; no official plan announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Rice, Sept. 4

MISSISSIPPI STATE

  • WHERE: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
  • MAX CAPACITY: 61,337
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 15,334 (25 percent)
  • 2021 PLANS: None announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Louisiana Tech, Sept. 4

FLORIDA


OLE MISS

  • WHERE: Vaught Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Mississippi
  • MAX CAPACITY: 64,038
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 16,009 (25 percent)
  • 2021 PLANS: None announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Austin Peay, Sept. 11

AUBURN

  • WHERE: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama
  • MAX CAPACITY: 87,451
  • 2020 CAPACITY: 17,490 (20 percent)
  • 2021 PLANS: None announced
  • 2021 HOME OPENER: vs. Akron, Sept. 4

Email Jeff Nowak at jnowak@theadvocate.com

Twitter: @Jeff_Nowak