Will There Be a College Football Season or Not?

Dan Raley

Jimmy Lake is counting on having a college football season.

In the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the University of Washington football coach said as much when pressed about this matter just last week.

Lake allowed how he wasn't a medical authority by any means, but he declared he was an optimist. 

"We're going to have a season," he said, "and it's going to be a memorable one."

Elsewhere around the country, Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger have been asking college administrators and coaches the very same question.

While no one can know for sure what will happen regarding all of our outbreak concerns come the end of August, when seven opening games are scheduled, but contingencies are being made to address the following scenarios:

A season as scheduled.

An abbreviated season.

A late-starting season.

A season with no football fans.

"I think there'll be a season," Forde said. "I don't know how much of one. I don't know when it will start."

Forde and Dellenger's story can be read here addressing a situation very much in flux.

Washington has played at least an abbreviated football season every year since 1891, when it didn't field a team. 

At the peak of World War II fighting overseas in 1943, the Huskies competed in three home games and a road game against a service team in Spokane, all victories. They next met league rival USC in the Rose Bowl, where they lost 29-0 on January 1, 1944.

Players came and went with great regularity at that time, called into the service and away from football. The UW had a much stronger team when the season began compared to its Pasadena showing because the roster was thinned with wartime call-ups.

Five football games has been the minimum for the UW since 1918, when World War I limited the school to just two contests.

Yet this global situation involving a highly contagious and fast-spreading disease is far different than anything the American athletic world has ever dealt with before.

The first seven college football games for the upcoming season are scheduled for Saturday, August 29, with Notre Dame and Navy meeting in Dublin, Ireland. The Pac-12 has UCLA hosting New Mexico State and Arizona entertaining Hawaii that day.

Seven days later, the Huskies meet Michigan at Husky Stadium.

The UW opener is 160 days out.

For now, be prepared for anything.