ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit Would Be "Shocked" If NFL, NCAA Football Returns On Schedule in Fall

Glen West

We've reached the two week mark of no sports due to the COVID-19 outbreak and while there are more important problems to be focused on, the escape that sports provide are sorely being missed in these times.

The NCAA, administrators and colleges are pooling all of their attention into making sure fall sports can start on time as the financial impact on college athletics has already started taking its toll. On Thursday, the NCAA Board of Governors voted to allot $225 million to universities for the 2020 season, a 62.5% reduction from the expected $600 million. 

“There’s just going to be less money to go around,” one Power 5 athletic director told SI's Pat Forde. “How much less, and for how long, we don’t know. But we need to be ready to adjust to that.”

While the focus is making sure there will be college football in the fall, there is skepticism from a number of pundits and analysts that picking up sports in the fall isn't realistic with all of the unknowns. 

On Thursday evening, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit weighed in on the future of football at both the professional and collegiate level. At this time, Herbstreit believes there is no conceivable path to both the NFL and NCAA football seasons starting on schedule.

"I'll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I'll be so surprised if that happens," Kirk said on ESPN radio. "Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you're 12 to 18 months from a [coronavirus] vaccine. I don't know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don't know how you can do it with the optics of it."

Herbstreit also made the point that many fans don't understand just how much work goes into preparing a team for a grueling 13 game season from a coaching perspective. Starting late in the summer could prove consequential to players' health, especially if they spend months not being able to put pads on and get in football shape.

"You don't all of the sudden come up with something in July or August and say, 'Okay we're good to go' and turn 'em loose," Herbstreit said. 

Therein lies the problem for all of these programs. The 2020 college season is supposed to be officially kicking off during this time with spring practices, workouts and team meetings being held. 

Instead, most if not all of college athletes are home, working out but are not able to build that chemistry with their teammates that's so important this time of year. That especially rings true with the 2020 LSU football team.

With many new freshman faces expected this summer combined with players stepping into new roles with the team, the importance of this spring couldn't be overstated. But for now, that all takes a back seat to facing this pandemic head on starting with Tigers coach Ed Orgeron.

“For every winning team, the key to success is learning the playbook. That’s true in football, and it’s also true as we take on the coronavirus. The spread of coronavirus is a serious matter, but there’s a game plan for keeping residents as safe as possible. Everybody has a role to play as we face this challenge together.”

Nobody wants to hear that football, college or pro, a sport beloved by millions across the country could be postponed. But Herbstreit's latest quotes are a reminder that anything is possible during these uncertain times.

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