Report: 'Strong Conviction' College Football Will Be Played Despite COVID-19

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2020

Gerald J Ford Stadium is shown before the NCAA First Responder Bowl college football game between Western Michigan and Western Kentucky in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

There is a "strong conviction" around the college football world that there will be a season this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:

That comes in the wake of Santa Clara County executive officer Dr. Jeffrey Smith telling Rong-Gong Lin II of the Los Angeles Times that he didn't expect "any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we'd be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not something that's going to be easy to do." 

The concern with ending social distancing guidelines prematurely is the prospect of a second wave of the coronavirus. To date, there have been 452,582 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, per CNN.com, leading to 16,129 deaths. 

"There will definitely be individuals who will get sick. And because there are individuals who get sick, there will be individuals who die after the order is released, unless we come up with a foolproof immunization, which is highly unlikely," Smith said regarding stay-at-home orders being rolled back.

There have been different opinions around the college football community regarding the coronavirus and social distancing guidelines.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said in late March he would be "shocked" if NFL and college football go ahead as planned in the fall.

"I'll be so surprised if that happens. Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you're 12 to 18 months from a [coronavirus] vaccine," he noted on ESPN radio (h/t TMZ Sports). "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."

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, meanwhile, said he wanted to bring get his staff and players tested and back into the building as early as May 1. 

"We get people that get the flu during the season, we quarantine them, we treat them, we make sure they're healthy, we bring 'em back," Gundy said, per Heather Dinich of ESPN. "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." 

Oklahoma State walked back those comments, however, saying it would "adhere to the advice of public health experts who are making informed decisions in the best interest of the citizens of our nation and state based on sound scientific data."

There remain a number of complicated factors that sports leagues around the United States have to consider. 

Do you return to action without fans? If stay-at-home orders continue in certain states but not others, do you relocate teams to go forth with your season? Do sports like the NFL and colleges have to consider pushing back the start date of their season to ensure that teams have enough time for training camps and preseason preparations, especially if social distancing guidelines stretch into the summer?

The goal will be to have a college football season that starts in the fall. The practical realities of the coronavirus pandemic may prevent that, however. 

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