The third and final phase of the NCAA's summer activities and preseason practice model got under way on Friday, allowing teams to have on-field walkthroughs, and for players to participate in 20 hours of athletically related activities per week.
It was welcomed with the announcement that two Big Ten programs, Michigan State and Rutgers had to put their entire teams into quarantine.
Welcome to football 2020 — and it's only the beginning.
We're now in the final stages of deciding whether or not college football will try and have a season in the fall.
“We believe late July will provide the best clarity for making important decisions ahead of us,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a recent release, and for the most part that's been the approach of the Power 5 schools, minus the Big Ten and Pac-12 announcing they were going with conference-only schedules earlier this month.
Here's the thing, though: July ends on Friday.
It's not the midnight hour for college football, but we're getting very close.
Plan B, of course, is to go with almost all conference-only schedules, and we're nearly there already.
Plan C is to delay the start of the fall season in a desperate hope things quickly get better. This will likely go in tandem with Plan B.
Plan D is to move football to the spring as a last resort.
The ACC and SEC presidents are set to hold their own meetings on Wednesday. Our own Tony Barnhart wrote that if the ACC decides to go ahead and try and play football the schools could receive their revamped schedules that day.
The SEC athletic directors are set to meet again on Thursday.
Although the SEC is the most powerful conference, don't expect a rush to announce anything. Rather, similar to Alabama waiting until hours before its first practice to cancel spring workouts, look for the league to drag things as long as it can before making any major decisions about football.
That would be the end of next week, Aug. 7, when fall practices are due to open.
A lot can happen before then, and most of them bad. For example, the Florida Marlins had a coronavirus outbreak over the weekend. The NBA is investigating whether NBA players left the bubble to go to a strip club.
As part of the league's new rules surrounding COVID-19, NFL players who contract the coronavirus while attending "high-risk" events will be subject to team discipline and potentially not receive pay checks, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.
Those are all sports that have huge advantages over college football in trying to play during the coronavirus pandemic. They can better isolate everyone, don't have to deal with the same number of people, and aren't as reliant on making money off attendance.
The Rutgers announcement came one day after Michigan State quarantined its entire program for 14 days, after it had received eight positive tests since mid-June. They joined Boise State, Houston, Idaho State, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Alabama and Texas-El Paso as suspending workouts because of a coronavirus outbreak.
Shutting down was a result of the Power 5 schools' in-season health plans recommending a 14-day quarantine period for anyone who has been in contact with someone who's tested positive.
Imagine what might happen when the players actually start hitting on the field.
Regardless, there's going to be a lot of moving pieces and a lot of things hitting the fan beginning this week.
Alabama's got the need, for speed ...
Nick Saban is known for keeping a tight lid on his coaches and the support staff if for no other reason than he wants to have a unified message in everything the football program does.
With that in mind, it was pretty surprising for Crimson Tide fans to see Dr. Matt Rhea posting social-media messages about the team speed over the weekend.
The one that really got them going was about Jaylen Waddle. Rhea posted: "You all know Jaylen is fast, but in the first 20 yards, I have never ever EVER seen speed data like @D1__JW."
Rhea, who has a brand new facility to work with, is Alabama's Director of Performance Science. He was hired along with David Ballou, the Crimson Tide's Director of Sports Performance, from Indiana in March.
Their predecessor was known for posting some hype videos and brief snippets of workouts. This obviously goes beyond that.
For example, Rhea also tweeted that he and Ballou had been “throwing everything we’ve got at these guys for injury risk reduction but we’re still seeing speed improvements across the team. (Yes you can still develop speed at this level if you do it right). These guys definitely know how to work. Been a pleasure so far.”
So why has Saban suddenly been letting the new strength and conditioning gurus be so public with their praise?
It's simple, and it goes back to a simple rule everyone should keep in mind when it comes to the coach: He doesn't do anything without having recruiting in mind.
That and Alabama feels it has a resource that's unmatched in college athletics:
Speaking of recruiting ...
It'll be interesting to hear Saban eventually talk about how the recruiting Class of 2021 was put together because even though Alabama was patient a lot of the players it's landed commitments from were thought to be all but locks elsewhere.
Remember, Alabama didn't even get to have a spring practice because everything started to shut down days before the Crimson Tide's first practice. It didn't have two big-time recruiting staples of A-Day or summer camps.
The Crimson Tide's push didn't begin until the Zoom season began, and lo and behold Saban is compiling another jaw-dropping group of talent.
SIAll-American says Alabama has had two of the more surprising decisions in the recruiting class so far, who are both listed on its top-10 list: Terrence Ferguson and JC Latham, who were thought to be heading to Georgia and Ohio State, respectively.
The scary thing is that while nearly 1,000 recruits have committed to FBS programs already, a number much higher than the average year, Alabama is just only past half done with 15 commitments.
2020 Swimsuit Issue: Kim Riekenberg
Did you notice?
• Arizona State announced that it will redshirt the entire men's and women's swimming and diving teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. "It's been real tough for four months," Coach Bob Bowman told Sports Illustrated. "The hardest part is no clarity, about anything. All our swimmers lost their NCAA (championships) last year. I'm not willing to let them lose two."
• In case you missed it, African-American and Africana Studies faculty at Kentucky are calling on the school to rename Rupp Arena.
Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW regularly appears on BamaCentral