Momentum has been building among Southeastern Conference athletic directors, including Vanderbilt's Candace Storey-Lee, toward a June 1, return date for athletes to return to campus and begin preparations for the coming college football season.
Last week though, during a virtual conference call, with 13 athletic directors in agreement, one school's director spoke out against the plan.
University of Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer was the only dissenting voice, saying June 15 seemed a more reasonable date. That time would allow for more data collection on the coronavirus situation in regards to states that have already begun reopening.
As much as it pains me to do so, I have to agree with Fulmer-I can't believe I just typed that, but alas- that two more weeks for data collection and to access the situation seems the prudent move here.
Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley echoed Fulmer's point, referring to that date as "one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard."
While Riley's comment has no direct impact on the final decision of the SEC, it lends support to the position Fulmer holds on the issue.
Most every one of importance in the world of college football believes there will be a season in 2020, though just how and which schools might be participants remain a point of discussion and a major unknown. Those voices all want to assure the health and safety of their student-athletes, and two more weeks will allow for a better understanding of the situation and what might happen from that point.
SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum also agrees with Fulmer and Riley, saying last week in a radio interview that "If college football comes back — or this goes for any sport — comes back too quickly and is not prepared, it is going to be catastrophic," Finebaum said. "Remember the NCAA Basketball Tournament? On Tuesday, we were debating fans, on Wednesday we said, 'Well, we'll put more hand sanitizer out.' By Thursday, there were no sports."
We all want college football season to begin on time as currently scheduled, but we also wish for the health and safety of the young men who play the game and entertain us weekly. Waiting two more weeks on the front end to assure the back end seems reasonable to help ensure this season doesn't end as the last basketball season did in cancelation.
There was no other option for the NCAA but the stoppage of basketball, but in not wanting to see that again, I'm for anything that makes that possibility less likely.
Even if that means I have to agree with Phil Fulmer one time.