What will The Alabama Football Season Look Like This Fall?
It's the question on every sports fan's mind these days, will there be a football season this fall?
The NFL has cancelled two weeks of preseason contests and is considering further cuts to its preseason. The Ivy and Patriot Leagues have cancelled their fall athletic seasons, football being the primary sport for both leagues.
The Big 10 and the Pac-12 have announced decisions to compete in conference only schedules in fall sports this season. These decisions have scratched several existing games, including the season opening game between Alabama and USC. The ACC is expecting to announce a similar decision which would cancel several existing yearly rivalries between ACC and SEC opponents.
How will the SEC and Big 12 respond to the decisions of the other conferences? Will SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey opt to follow suit and play only conference matchups? Should the conferences try to play its group of five and FCS opponents to ensure those schools are able to make their budget?
People have questioned why the Big 10 and Pac-12 have stepped out in front and made such a quick decision to revert to conference only games with still two months to go until the season is scheduled to begin.
The Big 10 and Pac-12 have decided to revert to conference only schedules in order to control the environment of its athletes and control who its athletes come into contact with. Conferences limiting competition to only conference play will allow each major conference to create its own COVID-19 testing protocols and its own protocols as to how to handle positive tests when they happen.
Nebraska will still travel to Rutgers, Arizona will still travel to Washington and Minnesota will still travel to Maryland to play conference games. It is not about the keeping the travel distance to a minimum as the Big 10 and the Pac-12 cover 11 and six states respectively.
Lars Anderson, New York Time best-selling author and co-host of The Jay Barker Show reported yesterday the Big 10's procedures this season are as follows.
- If a player is uncomfortable playing, the athlete can sit out the season without losing their scholarship.
- Athletes must have two negative COVID-19 tests in the span of 10 days in order to practice.
- Athletes will be tested two times per week during the season, one test being just prior to each week's game.
- Athletes who test positive for COVID-19 will have to miss 3-4 games.
- Athletes who test positive but are asymptomatic will have to sit out 14 days prior to returning to practice.
- Therefore, if an athlete has symptoms for 10 days he would have to sit out for 24 days total prior to returning to practice.
- Athletes returning to practice after having COVID-19 will not be allowed to practice at 100% for 4-7 days, meaning they cannot play a game during that recovery period.
- Each athlete will wear a tracker in order to keep track of athletes coming in contact with one another.
Ensuring that all its athletes are playing under the same procedures allows the conference a bit of legal protection should one of its athletes end up seriously sick due to the coronavirus.
Eliminating games with smaller universities and out of conference opponents ensures that all the athletes are operating under the same procedures for the upcoming season.
The SEC met with athletic directors yesterday but left the meeting without making a decision for the upcoming fall. Sankey has repeatedly stated the conference will wait until the end of the month to make a decision for the 2020 season. He has also been amendment that the decisions of other conferences will not force them into a decision of their own.
The SEC plays eight conference games by default, should the conference opt to play a conference schedule only many wonder if the SEC could increase its schedule by one or two games.
On Inside The Locker Room last week, former Ole Miss and Florida State football coach Max Howell stated that Alabama would be adding Florida and Vanderbilt to its 2020 schedule.
Mike Griffith of DawgNation joined The Game with Ryan Fowler this week and explained why Florida and Vanderbilt would make the most sense for the Crimson Tide this fall.
Moving to a conference only schedule option allows the SEC to control its own environment and the interactions between players. Should there need to be delays or postponements of games, a conference only schedule allows for the league to dictate when, how and if games are rescheduled.
We all want to know what will happen with football season this fall but football fans around the country will have to wait until the end of the month to hear what the SEC will do.