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College Football Start Moved Up, Emmert Wary, Arizona Lineman Suspended

The ongoing pandemic continues to influence daily decisions involving college programs across the nation. Here's a breakdown.

The pandemic continues to dictate actions all around college football, beginning with the NCAA informing  conference leaders that FBS programs can begin playing as early as Saturday, Aug. 29, in hopes of providing schedule flexibility to offset certain interruptions.

At the same time, Mark Emmert, the current NCAA and former University of Washington president, voiced his concerns over having a season at all because of the coronavirus spread and suggested that a delayed start and shorter seasons might be inevitable.

"We need to clearly see the indicators of viral spread be moving in a much better direction than they are right now," Emmert told ESPN.

What's clear is no one knows exactly what's coming for college football, other than the buffer for figuring out how to respond to the health crisis has nearly expired, as Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde explains here

From all indications, the Pac-12 still won't play football games any earlier than mid-September and will attempt to go with a 10-game, conference-only schedule, or as much of it as it can, though league leaders haven't released anything.

One player who won't be available to play right away is Arizona offensive lineman Edgar Burrola, a junior right tackle who has been suspended. He apparently wouldn't adhere to face-mask and social-distancing protocols, according to the Arizona Daily Star. 

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Burrola, who started last season's 51-27 loss to the UW in Tucson and five other games, had been skeptical of the coronavirus pandemic all along on social media, tweeting that "COVID-19 is fake" and "Open up the country!"

Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin said it was OK for Burrola to believe what he does, he just won't be able to play football by ignoring the safety measures in place for the Wildcats program. 

"There's some people that are saying that we're making guys do this, we're making guys do that," Sumlin told the Daily Star. "What we are making them do is go through the protocol. And if you're not going to adhere to the protocol, then we can't have you here."

The NCAA, at the direction of director of championships Ty Halpin, e-mailed conference officials on Monday to inform them a blanket waiver has been issued to enable teams to play a month from now. Some administrators feel an early start would help programs deal with inevitable quarantines and disruptions that might occur.

The college season previously was scheduled to begin for most teams on Sept. 5, with a handful of games held the week before. Teams with Aug. 29 games can begin preseason camps as early as Saturday. 

The Pac-12 has said all long it will release its football schedule this week.