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‘Everything is still in place’ for FSU-West Virginia opener in Atlanta

The head of the Peach Bowl said everyone’s intent is for Atlanta’s three marquee games to continue as scheduled.
Florida State is still scheduled to open at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, just as the Seminoles did against Alabama in 2017.
Florida State is still scheduled to open at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, just as the Seminoles did against Alabama in 2017. [ CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published May 19, 2020

The head of the Peach Bowl is still counting on Florida State’s Mike Norvell era to start on Sept. 5 against West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

“As it relates to the upcoming Kickoff Games we will host over the first two weeks of the college football season, right now everything is still in place for the games to be played as scheduled, and that is everyone’s intent at this time,” bowl CEO and president Gary Stokan said in a statement.

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No one knows whether the COVID-19 pandemic will allow that game, or any others, to be played as scheduled. Discussions about the season are ongoing across the country at all levels, and decisions aren’t expected to crystallize until late June, if not later.

Potential changes to the season include pushing the start date back or getting rid of some or all non-conference games. Either one would affect Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s three early contests — FSU-West Virginia, Georgia-Virginia on Labor Day and North Carolina-Auburn on Sept. 12.

Through a spokesperson, Stokan is declining interview requests because of the speculation.

“We are aware that various contingency plans for the college football season are being discussed, but no decisions have been made,” Stokan said in a statement. “We expect to learn much more about the virus and how to fight it in the coming months and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“If in that time the conferences and universities discuss alternative plans for the start of the college football season, then we will work closely with our partner teams and conferences and address them at the appropriate time.”

Related: Six historical lessons college football can apply to the coronavirus pandemic

The 2016 contract FSU signed with the kickoff game guarantees the Seminoles a payout of $4.25 million, in exchange for FSU agreeing to sell or purchase tickets worth just more than $4.5 million.

Unlike some other games, this contract does not include a clause about what will happen if it cannot be played. FSU’s 2022 opener against LSU in New Orleans calls for neither the teams nor the event organizer to be liable for damages if the game can’t be played because of “quarantine restrictions,” among a dozen other scenarios.


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