While a couple of major conferences have already made the decision that their college schedules this season will include only games within the conference, which will allow them to control the environment as much as possible—including for testing for Covid-19—the major powerhouse SEC is the decision that everybody is waiting on.
According to conference commissioner Greg Sankey, we will be waiting on that decision for a couple of more weeks. In a statement yesterday, he said, “it is clear that current circumstances related to COVID-19 must improve and we will continue to closely monitor developments around the virus on a daily basis”.
“In the coming weeks we will continue to meet regularly with campus leaders via videoconferences and gather relevant information while guided by medical advisors”, he added. “We believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us”.
The SEC contains some of the biggest teams in college football like Alabama, LSU, and Auburn. Alabama and LSU in particular are responsible for producing a large percentage of some of the highest talent that comes into the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have Minkah Fitzpatrick, Isaiah Buggs, and J.C. Hassenauer from Alabama, and John Battle from LSU.
As we get closer and closer to reporting dates for things to actually get underway, we are obviously going to begin to receive greater clarity on these issues. College football will have much less flexibility than the NFL does in relation to the coronavirus, working with a student body, but one option that some will likely consider is postponing the season to the Spring.
The SEC athletic directors, inadvisably, met in person yesterday to discuss the state of the season. Frankly it’s pretty odd that they felt it necessary to have this in-person meeting when they have been meeting virtually for a while, and we have seen a number of stories like this lead to Covid-19 spread.
The Big Ten and the Pac-12 have already decided to do intraconference schedules. The SEC is surely taking that into consideration for themselves, but their plans are to make use of the time that they have given themselves, until the end of the month.
“The trends are not what we desired”, Sankey admitted, regarding the state of the continued spread of the coronavirus around the country, which is at an all-time high in averaging over 60,000 new cases per day. The previous peak before the resurgence was an average of 35,000 cases per day.
Needless to say, nobody in the football world was expecting this when they shut things down in the Winter and Spring. They no doubt counted themselves as fortunate to be in their downtime, but now they are about the enter the thick of it all with the rest of the major leagues, and it’s not looking great.