5 Things to Keep an Eye on as College Football Attempts to Return

Christopher Walsh

It seems in regards to sports trying to return to the playing fields there's news nearly every day, and it's almost always bad.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a travel advisory that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days. It includes Alabama and goes into effect at midnight. 

Speaking before Congress, Dr Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that the next few weeks are critical to tamping down what he called a "disturbing" coronavirus surge.

In the Southeastern Conference, 11 Florida student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19, team sources have confirmed to Sports Illustrated's AllGators site.  

The level of concern is only growing as we move closer to professional sports restarting. While college football may have the toughest challenges to overcome it has the advantage of watching how the pro sports leagues are tackling getting back into action.

For example, Major League Baseball's first draft of its health manual was 67 pages, but the final copy clocked in at a whopping 101 pages. You can read the whole thing here.

Information is coming out slowly from schools, which have health confidentially issues to deal with, but here are here are five things to keep an eye out for as we start heading into July:

1. Schools announcing academic plans

Colleges and universities nationwide are running out of time to make decisions how, or if, they'll reopen their campuses to students in the fall. Some have already announced decisions to start the fall semester earlier, and be done before Thanksgiving in hopes of avoiding an expected  second wave of the coronavirus during flu season.

Most schools have circled July 1 as a sort of deadline for determining their initial direction, especially in terms of having students in classrooms, etc.   

Two things to keep in mind, though, are experts say the recent surge in coronavirus cases is still due to the first wave, and state support is essential, although policies vary from location to location.  

2. What are other athletes doing?

This will be a strong tell. Football and basketball players were the first ones allowed back campuses for voluntary workouts, followed by the NCAA ruling that athletes in all sports could resume voluntary activities beginning June 1.

There's been very little chatter about what's going on in the other sports. If protocols in football and basketball are working well, we'll start hearing more about other athletes. Unfortunately, we're instead hearing things like Connecticut deciding to eliminate women’s rowing, men’s tennis, swimming and diving, and cross country programs to cut costs. 

3. Team workouts  

The period beginning July 13 is being called "summer access," as football coaches will be able to work with their players. 

Schools may conduct up to eight hours of weight training, conditioning and film review per week from July 13-23, assuming their first contest is September 5. Schools may not have more than two hours of film review per week.

From July 24 through Aug. 6, schools may conduct up to 20 hours of countable athletically related activities per week with no more than four hours per day. Players can participate in a one-hour walkthrough each day. They can't wear pads or a helmet, but can use a football.   

4. SEC Media Days

A formal announcement for how and when a virtual version of SEC Media Days will be held is expected soon. It's scheduled for July 116, and was going to be held at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. 

SEC Media Days is considered the kickoff event for the season 

5. Fall camps  

Training camps are slated to open Aug. 7. The first games of the season are scheduled to be played Aug. 29.

The NCAA is requiring all teams to practice for four weeks before playing their first game. The concern that some will not be able to do so is why, in part, conferences have made it clear that everyone may not start on time as initially scheduled. 

10 Ways Sports Will Be Different

Keeping with the numerical theme (and invoking the memory of David Letterman's show) here now is today's top-10 list ... 

Sports are coming back — and, if all goes according to plan, soon. Some changes to the landscape will be temporary, but many are likely to last beyond the pandemic.

No spitting in baseball. No announcers in the booth. No scouts on the road. And a whole lot less soccer, cross-country and fencing on campus. The pandemic has changed our sports landscape in many ways, some permanently.

For example, two things that once seemed impossible are now likely: Stadium bathrooms will be cleaner and Mookie Betts' payday might be very different from what he envisioned as this is a terrible year to be a free agent.

Jon Wertheim and Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated compiled a list of 10 things sports fans will have to quickly get used to. 

Softball

Former Alabama standout, and current Team USA outfielder Haylie McCleney, was one of numerous players on the Scrap Yard Dawgs professional softball team who said they will never play for the team again after a controversial tweet by general manager Connie May.

The Houston-based independent softball team started a seven-game series against the USSSA Pride at Space Coast Stadium in Florida on Monday. The tweet was sent out from the team's official account during the game with a photo of Scrap Yard players standing during the national anthem. The now-deleted tweet included the message "Everyone respecting the FLAG!" and tagged President Donald Trump's twitter handle.

Several players quickly shared their objections on social media, including McCleney.

Did you notice?

• MLB will (plan to) play a 60-game farce of a season, which is a lose-lose for everyone involved.

• The coronavirus might have other ideas about baseball’s plan, though.

• Athletes at Brown are preparing for a legal battle over sports that were recently cut. 

 The full-court press is on to get the Mississippi flag changed, but not everyone in the state legislature is on board right now.

 Wizards sharpshooter Davis Bertans is the first player to pull out of the NBA’s restart. Blazers forward Trevor Ariza is also opting out of the competition to care for his son.

 Playing football in 2020 would mean prioritizing financial interests over health and safety

The Lighter Side

• A kicker from Japan is hoping to get a shot with an NFL team.

• Here’s the workout Jamie Foxx is using to train for his role as Mike Tyson.

• Kid Rock’s Nashville bar lost its beer license for violating COVID-19 restrictions. 

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Comments (1)
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Tyler  Martin
Tyler Martin

Editor

Crazy how one tweet literally shut down a team.


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