Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley 'Can't Imagine a Scenario' CFB Season Won't Be Played

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2020

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley speaks with his team before the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA semifinal college football playoff game against LSU, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis/Associated Press

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike around the United States, there are growing concerns about the feasibility of holding the 2020 college football season. 

But Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is remaining optimistic the NCAA and schools will find a safe solution to hold the campaign, as he told David M. Hale of ESPN:

"I just can't imagine a scenario [where we don't explore every option to play]. Whether it's something we do in the fall, whether it's a shortened season, whether it's spring, there's nothing we should take off the table. Regardless of what we have to do, I don't think there's anything we can't work around and we can't adjust and can't make work in order to play college football. We've all got to do our part on that."

Riley also acknowledged the top priority was the health and well-being of the players, coaches and staff: 

"The health and safety is the most important thing, and that's the determining factor. If we can't do it, we can't do it. But if we can, college football is so important to these communities, these universities, these athletes—not just football athletes, but college football affects every athlete on every campus. It's a big, big deal. It's not more important than health, but if we can get it to a safe place, we've got to find a way to get it done, whenever and however."

Even if a season does happen, it will have a different look and feel than usual. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced that its schools will be only permitted to play games within their conference. It's very likely that many states or cities might outlaw fans being in the stands following the news that the Philadelphia Eagles won't be allowed to host fans for the 2020 NFL season due to the city canceling all large gatherings through February. 

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Some officials are pessimistic about the odds of a college season even occurring.

"Right now, I don't see a path in the current environment to how we play," a Power Five athletic director told Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. "I'm confident we'll get back to what we all think of as normal, but it may be a year before that happens."

"Ultimately, no one is playing football in the fall,” another high-ranking college official told Thamel. "It's just a matter of how it unfolds. As soon one of the 'autonomy five' or Power Five conferences makes a decision, that's going to end it."

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