Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
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Dominoes are lining up for a 2020 season
A football rests on a pylon before the NCAA college football playoff championship game between Georgia and Alabama, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
College football seems to be holding its breath.
Most schools are moving toward the opening weekend in 60 days, but from all over the country little pieces of news are starting to come together to create some concern.
Everyone is all too aware the coronavirus numbers are growing instead of diminishing.
Oklahoma’s head coach, Lincoln Riley, is talking about how spring football would work, and he isn’t talking about two weeks of workouts, but playing fall’s football schedule much later.
Navy can’t play its season-opener against Lafayette College because the school is not able to meet the established medical advisory guidelines of having its team back by late July and begin practices Aug. 3.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said on the NCAA’s social series: “Unless we see a change in the trajectory of the virus and its impact pretty quickly, I think the situation is a lot more perilous than it was a few weeks ago.’
A few weeks ago the NCAA canceled all spring sports, including its huge money maker, the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
The Wolverine Digest, part of SI.com, had a long story quoting numerous Michigan sources that the Wolverines are looking into canceling games with Arkansas State and Washington and rescheduling teams that can bus to Ann Arbor.
Michigan brass might want to check with Terry Mohajir, ASU’s AD. He might be willing to make the 23-hour bus trip, each way, for his biggest payday of the season.
Michael Spath’s story about Michigan’s upcoming season left no doubt many non-athletic staff members are concerned.
It is speculated to make a season happen this fall that you have to sequester the football team from the student body, or not have a student body and just have athletes on campus, the entire season.
He wrote that would be like being in prison.
It is hard to imagine the Arkansas Razorbacks not being allowed anywhere on Dickson Street, or even to take classes with their classmates.
The idea at Michigan is football players would do all their college work virtually while being sequestered.
Meanwhile, schools around the country are stopping volunteer workouts because of new virus cases among the athletes.
There is a lot of smoke around college football right now.
Enough to believe there is a fire.
One thing the article pointed out, and there’s no reason to disagree, is no school wants to be the first to say it is canceling its season.
One will start the domino effect.
There is still too much hope of having a season.
A hope steeped in financial reasons.
That is not to say the schools are taking chances with the health of their players. They have made it clear from the start that is their No. 1 priority.
What seems to be at work behind closed door is the NCAA, conference athletic directors and school ADs are considering all sorts of options right now, mostly in hopes of having a season this fall, if possible.
Riley’s idea might be extreme, especially up north where games even in April could be played in snow storms and freezing temperatures, although that would certainly make it easier to allow fewer fans and maintain social distancing.
My gut feeling is this football season being played as it is now scheduled is less than 50-50.
Just two to three weeks after Memorial Day, when people openly celebrated and partied together, the coronavirus has taken off.
We will know soon how much people ignored social distancing over the Fourth of July.
We probably won’t know there will be a football season until next month.
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