For many weeks, the thought of the college football season starting on time in 2020 seemed like a pipe dream. There were so many unknown questions that even two weeks ago, the most realistic option seemed to be a start in October at the earliest.
But the tide seems to be turning as Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reports. On Friday, Sports Illustrated reported that college football leaders are preparing for a plan that would revolve around a two-week "OTA" (essentially walk through practices) in July followed by a four-week camp in August. If all runs smoothly, it would give teams the requisite time to prepare for the season to begin in September.
For teams that are slated to start their seasons on week one, like LSU, the six-week practice plan would start on July 25.
Though still in the early stages of consideration, the plan is another sign that leaders are moving college football further along the path to an on-time kickoff.
The report also states that 75% of college football teams are expected to start voluntary workouts by June 15. On Wednesday, the NCAA voted to lift the moratorium on on-campus activities and the SEC is expected to issue a similar ruling on Friday.
“If you’d a told me a month ago that we would start voluntary workouts in June, I wouldn’t have believed you,” West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons told SI.
The main reasoning behind the growing optimism for a season to start on time has been the notion that there will be more widespread testing in the coming months. Lyons is a member of the NCAA DI Council and DI Football Oversight Committee, two groups that are essential in getting college football back up and running.
“The question a month ago was, ‘Are we going to have enough tests?’” Lyons said. “Now we’re getting info that there’s a (quick) strep throat-like test. There are more and more answers as we go."
So where does this leave LSU football? If the SEC decides to lift the moratorium on Friday, whether it's June 1 or June 15, the Tigers will be back on campus in some capacity in the next few weeks. Once the players are back on campus, a routine of voluntary workouts with no coaches allowed for direction is the scenario that was laid out by the NCAA on Wednesday.
"We welcome it, we've been preparing," coach Ed Orgeron said in an interview Wednesday evening. "We've been in our offices three weeks as a staff so we're prepared but obviously we're going to follow the proper protocols to make sure our guys are safe."
However, also a part of Dellenger's report was that the "Oversight Committee" is discussing plans to allow a return of "required" summer workouts where coaches can be involved. That's a ruling that Dellenger said would come by July 1.
All of this leads to the hope that college football will start on time in September. Whether there will be fans in the stands is a matter that still has many avenues to be worked out. But the most important goal from the start was making sure a college football season was possible this year.
And while anything can change at a moment's notice, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel that looms closer.