Wednesday is HUGE in terms of a return to college football

Ryan Kostecka

Nearly every sports fan in the country is hoping for a return of college football — as long as it's done in a safe and healthy manner.

Over the past month, there have been multiple reports that college football is trending towards returning on time in the fall. But then college coaches were asked about a timeframe for returning, and the consensus was that at least a six-week training camp period must take place before players can safely play the game again. 

"I don't believe that players that have the availability and the opportunity to train should be withheld from them,. ... There's imbalances and inequities all across the board in the NCAA--facility-wise, recruiting base--nothing is really equal when you really look at it," Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham said. "Now, the lead-in time to the season needs to be the same [for all schools]--six weeks, seven weeks whatever, that needs to be mandated. We've talked as coaches in the conference, and I think the sentiment is pretty much six weeks would be a minimum."

Last Thursday, the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee approved the long-talked-about six-week preseason practice plan and recommended it to the NCAA D-I Council. Now the council is set to vote on Wednesday on the committee's approval — and if approved, it means that the upcoming season will proceed as planned.

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Under the plan, normal “required” summer workouts, which includes coaching interaction, could begin for some as early as July 6. 

Last month, the NCAA granted schools the ability beginning June 1 to hold on-campus voluntary workouts, which do not include coaching interaction. In required workouts, athletes can spend six hours a week with the strength staff on weight training and conditioning and spend two hours with coaches for film study. The required workouts would lead into what’s being termed as “enhanced” summer training, a two-week stretch constituting the first portion of the proposed six-week preseason practice plan.

The start date of each of these activity segments — required workouts, enhanced training and preseason camp — is determined by a team’s first game. Those starting on Week 1, Labor Day weekend, could begin required workouts July 13, enhanced training July 24 and camp Aug. 7. For those starting a week before, on Week 0, activities can move up by a week.

As part of the preseason plan, a team must practice four weeks before playing its first game, a rule that could conceivably impact early-season games if a program’s camp is interrupted. 

College officials have long expected that not all 130 FBS teams will start on time. In fact, during a conference call with members of the White House reopening task force last week, NCAA president Mark Emmert said officials were preparing as if every team won’t play football this year

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