CFB

College football fans pack the stadium at Nebraska last season. While there are plans in place to bring the sport back in the fall, there are still too many unknowns about public health to know for sure what this season will look like.

What you and I think, or hope, doesn’t really matter at this point.

That’s because we’ll have no say whatsoever on it.

That being when, or even if, college football returns.

I am over COVID-19 and all that goes with it. I am sorry people are still suffering from this pandemic, and it’s apparently going nowhere. Even so, I am ready to move forward, but like I said, it doesn’t matter what we think.

It’s up to the powers-that-be (NCAA, school presidents, athletic directors, health officials and conferences), and there is no way to see what’s coming.

For all of the questions that lack answers, the biggest — for sports in our portion of the world, at least — keeps inching closer to one.

I am still saying college football happens in some form this fall.

But there are a lot of unsolved questions that stand between now and then.  

A small number of college football players in this state and around the country have already tested positive for COVID-19.

In the SEC, Tennessee did confirm that none of its players tested positive, but Alabama reportedly had at least five cases. Texas A&M confirmed some to the Dallas Morning News. Mississippi State had four. Auburn had three. There were others in other conferences.

The University of Houston on Friday suspended voluntary workouts after six symptomatic athletes tested positive for COVID-19 in addition to a growing number of cases in the city. That combination caused the kind of swift action at a Division I institution that, while troubling, has so far been rare.

While I have moved on from wearing a mask, unless required, and put the pandemic on my personal backburner, this thing is still a real problem. If COVID-19 cases continue to rise, just as they have in 22 states over the last week, football — at the college level — is in trouble.

But the good news is college football’s on-ramp to a pandemic-altered 2020 season was put in place this week by the NCAA Division I Council, which voted to approve a preseason calendar that allows the sport to start a full training camp Aug. 7 and its season on time in the first week of September.

So what will college football look like it September?

Will fans be allowed at games? Will all state governments be on board for campuses to reopen for in-person classes? Will teams be able to play full schedules and bowls? Will some schools opt to not play football at all?

One thing that is not in doubt is that historically black colleges and universities will struggle mightily if the season goes on.

 Four games involving HBCUs have canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, making them the first casualties of major college football leading up to a season that appears tenuous just over two months before its scheduled kickoff.

Two neutral-site games — Southern University versus Tennessee State in Detroit on Sept. 5 and Jackson State versus Tennessee State a week later in Memphis — have been canceled along with Southern’s home game on Sept. 12 against Florida A&M. Jackson State also was forced to cancel its Sept. 5 season opener against Langston University, because Langston and other N.A.I.A. schools have been prohibited from playing before Sept. 12.

Dozens of games have already been canceled at the lower levels of college football with Division II schools placing a 10-game limit on the season, and N.A.I.A. pushing its start date back two weeks, but these games are the first at the Division I level to be quashed.

I bet less than half of athletic directors at institutions at the Football Bowl Subdivision level   have financial reserves for crises like the current pandemic. But you know smaller, under-funded programs like MVSU don’t.

I hope to sit down with Valley officials soon to see how they see things playing out.

But for now, just hold on to the hope we have college football in the fall, even if with a possible delayed start and other restrictions.

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