Nick Saban: 'Nobody Really Knows' If 2020 College Football Season Will Be Played

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 2, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: ESPN commentator Nick Saban during the Clemson v LSU game in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama head coach Nick Saban discussed topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on the 2020 college football season in a conference call Thursday.

Of note, Saban declined to answer a question on whether he thought there would even be a 2020 campaign, noting the uncertainty of the future because of the coronavirus:

"I never really answer hypothetical questions. I'm sure that everybody's going to want me to speculate on what's going to happen in the future, and nobody really knows. It's very uncertain. It's uncertain times.

"I think we have to fight through the process of what we need to do on a day to day basis to make good choices and decisions, to the right thing at the right time regardless of the circumstance."

It's conceivable that a season occurs with an adjusted preseason practice schedule, but Saban said he is not in favor of an extended fall camp to get players ready:

"If you look at statistics historically on concussions, injuries ... the most concentrated time that you practice and not play is in fall camp. You have more practices, you have to spend more time on the field. So I don't know that increasing that is going to be beneficial in getting people ready to play.

"I think if you could do simulated training programs in the summertime that wouldn't involve that much contact, or even any contact, that would be just as beneficial at that point."

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Alabama is looking to bounce back from a down year (by its lofty championship standards) in which the Crimson Tide went 11-2 and finished eighth in the Associated Press poll. They finished the season with a win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.

Saban said he's still preparing for the 2020 season, albeit with adjustments. He's holding 7:30 a.m. meetings with staff online and speaks with recruits via video conferences and phone calls.

Amid speculation about the status of the upcoming season, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported that the powers-that-be in college football have talked about what an adjusted schedule may look like:

"College football stakeholders have begun the process of modeling what a return to play would look like for the sport. ... There will be at least some adjustment made to the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the cancellation of spring practices and spring games nationwide.

"Specifically, there have been models for college football teams reconvening on June 1, July 1 and Aug. 1. In addition, there has been discussion of a truncated season, including one with only conference games being played."

Dick Harmon of the Deseret News caught up with Dodd and Jon Wilner of the Mercury News for their takes on whether there will be a season.

Dodd said:

"I've been putting it at 40/60 against (4 out of 10?). Too many logistical hoops to jump through right now. It is hard to envision there not being any positives IF camp opens on time. Putting 100 people in a room goes against everything we know right now. Plus it's hard to play football if school isn't even open. That said, administrators are desperate for that TV money."

Wilner added:

"I'd say 25 percent chance there are no games played, 25 percent chance it's business as usual, and 50 percent chance that it is delayed or interrupted.

"The schools and the networks will exhaust every option—even if it means playing on Tuesdays and starting in November. There is too much at stake. They will be as creative as is humanly possible."

Harmon believes the season has a 50-50 shot of proceeding, but speculating is a difficult enterprise because of the uncertainty that surrounds COVID-19 and the length and severity of the disease's impact.

Per the World Health Organization, 900,306 people have confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, and at least 45,693 people have died as of Thursday afternoon.

The United States has the most confirmed cases with 187,302, with 24,100 confirmed Wednesday alone.

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