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Herm Edwards Spoke to ASU's Journalism School About COVID-19 And the Upcoming Season

The head football coach formerly with ESPN offers advice to future broadcasters
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“This is not a social distancing sport.”

The sideline of a college football game is crowded. Each team has around 100 players, plus dozens of coaches and staff members. Positions are tight-knit units that spend a lot of time together in practice and film rooms. And every play has several points of direct contact between players.

Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards joined students of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications on Tuesday to discuss a plethora of topics.

With his experience as a coach and a football analyst with ESPN, discussions ranged from the role media has in today’s America to using one’s voice on their social platforms.

But, some of his concerns for the upcoming season came up.

Amid a global coronavirus pandemic, the college football season is still set to start in late August, for now.

However, multiple COVID-19 hotspots are in Pac-12 territory, Arizona and California most prominently, so the conference could pivot to conference-only games or playing in spring.

Edwards alluded to there being a plan, but anything can change in this climate.

“The million dollar question is ‘are you guys going to try to do this?’,” Edwards said. “Yes. How does this work? I don't know.

“We have a plan. But I've always said this about planning plans: if it can't be changed, it’s a bad plan. So there's another plan. And then there's another plan.”

Edwards said that there's excitement among players and coaches when the season nears. It is when teams get to show off their talent, their preparation.

But there is a new reality now. The build up to a new time to shine can't cloud the issues with returning.

As stated earlier, Edwards said football is not a social distanced sport. He said he’s been a part of football his whole life, and he still doesn't know how social distancing works in the sport. So, the risk for spreading illness could be higher, in which case, what happens then?

“What if we get started and I lose four of my (coaching) staff?” Edwards asked. “Who’s coaching the team? I guess the fans will say ‘I’ll coach the team’ but who's coaching the team? We have 110 football players and we only have 10 coaches.

“What if the trainers get sick? Who’s going to tape the ankle? There's a lot to wrap around this thing now.”

Before a clear plan to start the season presents itself, Edwards and ASU will have to do its best to stay healthy and ready. Players returning and camps going well are the first steps in seeing if a season is really possible.

Edwards said that ASU's first “legitimate team meetings” will be held on Saturday, but they will be held in multiple groups to avoid too many players together in close proximity.

“You have to trust in your hopes and not your fears,” Edwards said. “We’re going to do everything possible to try and make it happen. But we will not, and I cannot stress this enough, put anyone in a position where they are not safe.”