From The Couch: Will There Be College Football This Fall?


Will there be a college football season this fall?  Or any sports for that matter?  Reading the comments of some of the key people in college football only makes me as confused as ever.  The bottom line is that I don't think anyone knows.  Here's what people are saying as of April 11th, with the season set to start four months from now.

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Herbstreit said during the interview. “Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a (coronavirus) vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”...Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN Radio, March 27th

JM:  Herbstreit was the first person that I heard speaking with the confidence that there will likely not be a college football season this fall.  One person that disagreed with him was K-State athletic director Gene Taylor....

“I appreciate Kirk becoming a medical doctor and telling us what we should or shouldn’t do, but I’m not ready to go there yet. I certainly am hopeful that if we maintain the recommendations from medical folks and stay away from one another and be careful and not do any public events in crowds, that maybe in 60-90 days will be at a point where we can bring our kids back to campus and at least start practice sometime in July.”...Gene Taylor, KMAN Radio, Monday, April 6th

JM:  Seems like a reasonable approach.

"Asked if the Power 5 commissioners have talked about shortening the season, Bowlsby said, 'We've talked about every permutation you could name,' but he declined to elaborate.
'We don't know when somebody is going to tell us it's going to be OK to go back to close contact,' he said. 'I suspect that medical experts and scientists are going to be slow to give the green light on that. The magic start date is probably a mirage.'"...Heather Dinich, ESPN, April 9th

JM:  Translation:  Nobody knows at this point, even Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

"We're looking at all kinds of models, between a full season starting on time, to slightly altering the start of the season, whether that means moving it up a couple of weeks, back a couple of weeks, whether that means a shortened season, whether that means moving the entire season or a portion of the season to the spring," Castiglione told reporters via teleconference Wednesday. "We're looking at any and all kinds of models and be able to adapt to one of them depending upon what the medical experts tell us."...Heather Dinich, ESPN, April 9th

JM:  Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione confirmed that they are looking at all kinds of different models and options.  One thing he didn't mention was cancelling the season altogether. 

“We get people that get the flu during the season," Gundy said, per ESPN. "We quarantine them. We treat them. We make sure they’re healthy. We bring ‘em back. It would be the same thing here, but at some point, we’ve got to go back to work. We’ve got to get these guys back in here. ... From what I read, the healthy people can fight this, the antibodies make it better. They’re doing some blood transplants now with the people that have already gotten the disease, that have gotten over it that have the antibodies that can fight it. There’s a lot of people who can figure this out. May 1’s our goal. Don’t know if it will happen. Players will come in after that.”...AL.com, April 7th

JM:  Well there's a different take on the matter by Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State's head football coach.  I sure don't see May first happening.

 “My preference is let’s get to work and go play,” Swinney said. “That’s the best-case scenario, and I think that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t have any doubt. I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing and the stands are going to be packed.”...Mark Heim, AL.com, April 7th

JM:  Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney seems to think "business as usual" this fall.  I don't see this one happening, either.  Hope I'm wrong.

"He is so sure, in fact, he created the acronym T.I.G.E.R.S. which stands for “This Is Gonna End Real Soon.”...Mark Heim, AL.com, April 7th

JM:  Dabo Swinney is quite the character.  Is his optimism over the top?  Probably. 

"Wefald told Paul Finebaum the season likely won’t happen if there isn’t a cure by July for coronavirus, and explained, “We are on a track right now that makes it highly unlikely that we are going to play football this year.”...Daily Caller, April 3rd.

JM:  Jon Wefald didn't say if this was just his opinion or if he had some "insider info" about playing college football this fall.  Either way, this quote made some waves in the media. 

“Hope and going to prepare,” Harbaugh said. "I’m not going to give it one thought that it’s not going to happen, because it’s like being a quarterback. I learned that it’s better to be prepared and not have the opportunity, than to not prepare and your chance comes and your opportunity comes and you’re not prepared to do it.  You got to not have one thought that it won’t happen.”...Jim Harbaugh, mlive.com, April 10th.

JM:  Harbaugh is taking the "business as usual" approach as well, but I think he's just trying to be optimistic here and not really counting on the college football season playing out as usual.

"Either we've made it through this and it's safe for people to be around or it's not.  Obviously we shouldn't do anything until it's completely safe.  I don't know how all of sudden you're gonna say you can start playing football games with no fans and that's safe, but it's not safe for fans. So I think that's a waste of time."...Lane Kiffen, Paul Finebaum show on ESPN Radio, April 10th.

JM:  Kiffen is commenting about football being played in empty stadiums.  I tend to agree with him.  Either it's safe for fans to be there and for players to play or it's not. What this means is an "all or none" approach and to me makes it less likely that we'll see college football played as early as late August.

"The NCAA on Friday announced that it has established an internal COVID-19 playing and practice seasons working group, which will focus on football and communicate with the football oversight committees for Division I, Division II and Division III.  'The foundation of return to practice and competition is public health,' the NCAA said in a statement. 'Assuming safety principles are in place, there are many 'what if' scenarios that this group will assess, including possible modifications of conditioning and training in the summer and preseason. Given currently available data and infrastructure for disease management for COVID-19, it is premature to establish a timeline for when these scenarios may be put in place.'"..Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com, April 10.

JM:  Translation:  Stay tuned!

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