This past weekend, Gentry Estes of The Tennessean penned a column on the "what ifs" or ramifications should Vanderbilt University decide not to play football this season. He then appeared on the VandySports.com podcast with host Chris Lee of Rivals.com on Monday, discussing the article. The article centers around the unknowns of where Vanderbilt is as far as reopening in-person, on-campus classes to students.
Vanderbilt is in a unique situation in two respects compared to its fellow SEC members as the leagues only private institution and resides in the conference's most extensive and only major city.
The decision for Vanderbilt in terms of on-campus classes is concerning because of the dense population of their city. The possible issues that could arise in a metropolitan city where a spike in the virus could occur more rapidly than in other league cities such as Auburn, Alabama, or Starkville, Mississippi is, and should be concerning to decision-makers.
Their location means that not only does the university have their own set of guidelines for reopening, and must abide by the city's reopening plans. To that end, Vanderbilt has been clear that their plan might not "mirror" those of the town.
As of yet, Vanderbilt has not made clear their intent to hold classes on campus or to commit to a football season. They are the only one of the schools in the SEC who have not yet announced those plans.
What happens if Vanderbilt decides not to allow football to play this season?
That's a million-dollar question that Estes addressed along with the variables of such a decision.
While the athletic department and coaches are preparing for a return, the final decision here lies with the university administration, where a new chancellor is set to take office on July 1.
Fans want football, but the realistic position of Vanderbilt in terms of their location and the decision they must make in regards to the health and safety of their student-athletes versus the financial ramifications of not playing football is an unenviable one.
A decision must come at some point, but it is in the best interest of Vanderbilt to take as much time as they need to make the best decision for themselves as an institution to protect their staff and students.
Regardless of what might happen in the multitude of scenarios, Vanderbilt will move for those best interests, and that's how it should be.