Will we have college football this fall?
When the coronavirus pandemic first started, I would have answered that question with a resounding “Yes.”
But ever so slowly my confidence has waned.
It went from “hopeful” to “moderately hopeful” to “slightly hopeful” to “doubtful” to “very doubtful.”
I don’t believe the 2020 football season will happen.
There are far too many signs pointing in that direction. Why, as soon as college football players showed up for voluntary workouts, the number of COVID-19 cases starting piling up.
Clemson, for example, conducted 430 tests — which is more than most schools could afford — and came away with 47 positive results for student-athletes overall, including 37 football players.
That’s one-third of the Tigers’ roster.
Houston had to shut down voluntary workouts because the school didn’t test athletes when they first returned and six positive cases popped up. There were 13 positive tests at the University of Texas. After 14 positive tests, Kansas State had to take a 14-day hiatus from voluntary workouts.
I mean, even defending national champion LSU had 30 players in quarantine.
And, remember, those are just the schools that announced the positive COVID-19 results.
Who knows how many other college football programs are in similarly dire straits?
That’s why Morehouse, a historically Black college in Atlanta that competes in NCAA Division II, already has canceled its 2020 football season.
Florida Tech shut down its football program in May because of COVID-19, but Morehouse is believed to be the first scholarship football program to cancel the 2020 season.
Morehouse was first, but it probably is not going to be the last.
As Pete Thamel so eloquently wrote in Yahoo Sports, “The past few weeks have reaffirmed the lack of a consistent national plan, the economic disparities for medical equipment among the FBS schools and the amount of overall difficulties in executing a season.”
Game. Set. Match.
One athletic director was quoted as saying, “I’m way less convinced we will play [football] than I was a few weeks ago.”
Then, there’s another matter.
For argument’s sake, let’s say the college football season starts on time. But how long will it last, and how many schools will be able to compete before a COVID-19 spike forces a shutdown?
In my mind, the worst-case scenario would be to start the 2020 college football season, then be forced to interrupt play or, perhaps, have to shut it down.
I’m not painting a very rosy picture, am I?
Sorry, but that’s how realism works. And as the positive tests for COVID-19 continue to pile up, it’s getting very real.
So real, in fact, the Ivy League is looking at two possibilities for its 2020 football season. One choice would be to play only seven games — against only conference opponents — with a season starting in late September. The other is a spring season with seven games beginning in April and finishing in mid-May.
If that sounds like clutching at straws, it’s because that is the corner in which college football is finding itself.
It isn’t convenient. It isn’t comfortable. It isn’t what anybody wants.
Again, will we have college football this fall?
I sincerely hope so.
But I doubt it.