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SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey Says League "Hoping" for September Start to Football Season

Many steps must be taken before college football returns in any capacity

We all want sports back. Sports take our minds off of the problems that the world is facing and would be a welcomed distraction particularly in the climate we're currently living in.

This past week's NFL draft, for example, was the first real sporting event in six weeks and went off without a hitch, bringing in record numbers across the country. On Thursday, while making an appearance on Jacksonville radio station 1010 XL, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey reiterated his hope for a college football season.

“My focus is on football as scheduled,” Sankey said. "The circumstances will guide that decision making. We want to be prepared.”

Sankey said he spent time chatting with nearly 100 student athletes over the past week and the overwhelming reaction was "to get back to it."

"Our hope is that people continue to pursue the healthy course," Sankey said. "Taking what I would consider to be radical measures now so that we can get through this, learn treatments, figure out how to manage ourselves socially and then get back to some type of normal function sooner rather than later."

In order for the SEC's "hopeful" timeline to return to college athletics, there are many steps that first must occur. First and foremost, the states and cities that are all pretty much in "stay at home" mode, would have to start opening up a little at a time.

Starting Friday, Georgia has allowed gyms, churches, hair and nail salons, and tattoo parlors to reopen. Restaurants and movie theaters reopened on Thursday. Alabama's stay at home order expired April 30, with beaches already starting to reopen.

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What Georgia and other states are doing points to a larger problem at hand in the world of sports. Some states are simply further along than others. In Louisiana, the stay at home order has been extended to May 15 while California's stay at home order was extended through May 31.

Sankey said in his interview that the hope is for all 10 conferences to be on the same page come fall but if they're not, should that exclude the ones that are ready to resume sports from making a return?

"If there's a couple of programs that aren't able, does that stop everyone? I'm not sure it does," Sankey said. "But the ability for us to stay connected will remain important.

"Hope is not a plan, but right now the desire would be to have 11 states and 14 [SEC] institutions moving forward in a collective manner and, like I said, connected nationally so that we can celebrate the return of college sports."

In order for college athletics to return, the NCAA and SEC would have to allow players to return to campus, start working out in the program's training facilities and then start practice. LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt has already said he'd need a month of workouts and weight lifting to feel comfortable allowing players to practice.

The feeling is that programs would need an additional 4-6 weeks on the practice field before being ready for a return to play. Just doing the math, that's a minimum of two months that would need to be marked before a return to football would be possible. 

If Sankey and the SEC's hope is to remain on schedule and return in September, that would mean a return date of no later than the beginning of July. Is that a plausible timeline? 

There are still many questions with not enough answers. "Hopefully" that will start to change in the coming weeks.