To answer the question as simple as possible, I would say “nobody knows for sure.” No matter what anyone tells you, there is no definite plans to change, alter, adjust, transform, modify, revise, mutate, or cancel the college football season. I’m not saying changes aren’t coming, but nothing has been officially announced.
Even though there are currently no plans to change anything yet, let’s take a look at what changes could happen and how it could impact the Louisville football season.
What we know
is that the NCAA Division 1 Council lifted a ban for on-campus activities from June 1st to June 30th, meaning athletes will be allowed to be on campus for voluntary individual workouts beginning June 1st. Football and men’s and women’s basketball players will be the first allowed on campus for the voluntary workouts. On-field coaches can have no interaction with players, but strength staff members are expected to be allowed to supervise activity. No football or basketballs will be permitted in the first couple of weeks.
Even though the NCAA has lifted the ban, the state, local, and institutional guidelines that have been put in place due to the pandemic still take precedence.
The ACC will not be taking a conference-wide vote on a uniform return to voluntary workouts. It's up to each athletic department now that the NCAA lifted the moratorium starting June 1, so expect to see more announcements like this coming down. https://t.co/U9ytgMPH0L
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) May 21, 2020
UofL Athletics administrators and health officials have been planning a phased return to campus for weeks.
Phase 1 – a limited group of student-athletes totaling about 30 in football, plus 15 each for men’s and women’s basketball, would arrive on campus on June 1, with education on protocols to be employed prior to their arrival. The group would begin testing on June 2, physical examinations on June 4, and be ready to participate in voluntary physical training, not directed by coaching staffs, on June 8. Three UofL facilities — the Schnellenberger Football Complex, Trager Center, and Planet Fitness Kueber Center — would be open with limited occupancy during the first phase.
Phase 2 – an additional 30 football and 60 Olympic sport student-athletes would arrive on campus on June 15. The group would experience similar preparations before engaging in voluntary physical activity by June 22 within their respective venues. During this stage, additional athletics facilities would be opened with limited occupancy. For instance, workouts within the Marshall Center would be in small groups in staggered sessions throughout the day, with disinfecting occurring after each session.
Phase 3- the remaining football student athletes would be back to campus on July 7, preparing to begin voluntary physical activity on July 13. Up to 60 additional student-athletes could be included as well in this phase should it be permitted by the NCAA with access to work out in the Marshall Center as appropriate.
By the fourth phase in early August, all student-athletes would return to activities with full practices, scrimmages, and competitions as allowed by NCAA or ACC guidelines. All athletic facilities would be open by this time.
- Above phases are taken from Kenny Klein at GoCards.com.
What we think May happen on campus
is to see things like a fogging machine that can coat the weight room, locker room, and training areas in a germ-killing substance that endures for up to three months. You may see outdoor weight rooms on a temporary basis. You may see coaches and staff members in masks and gloves. You may have to have your temperature taken to enter the building. Hand sanitizing stations all over the facility as well as one way stairwells. There will most likely be no high-fiving and no weight-training exercises that require assistance from a spotter. As well as all the other usual social distancing practices that they can think of. Players could be tested at various times and prior to every game.
What could happen for the season
A lot of scenarios about the season are being thrown out there. The most common are
- The season doesn’t start on time and ends in February
- Some non conference games are cancelled to shorten the season
- Bowl games in cities with very high Covid-19 numbers could be cancelled for this year
- Season starts some point in February, playing into March, April, May, and possibly have the postseason in June.
But what about the fans
If and when all the student athletes get back on campus and are fully conditioned to safely play a football game, there has to be some sort of plan in place for the fans safety. I don’t see any scenario where college football is played in front of 0 fans. I’ve seen reports from athletic directors guessing that the stadiums could safely be filled at 30-40% capacity. While Iowa State’s athlete director said that their stadium, that seats 61,500, would be limited to just 30,0000 fans.
Deciding who gets those tickets is only a small problem for Louisville and all other schools.
Keeping social distancing in ticket lines, concession lines, bathroom lines, and exiting the stadium are all tall tasks. Will the fans be required to wear masks or will it just be strongly suggested. How will they seat people to keep them with their families, but socially distanced from others? How many hand sanitizing stations will be set up throughout the stadium? Will my beer vendor be allowed to come to my seat and sell me beer? Will stadium employees be wearing PPE? We probably won’t be getting any popcorn or pretzels with cheese and salt unless they get some prepackaged bags. Will they eliminate draft beer and only sell cans? Will there be a student section? Probably no band and I’m guessing no cheerleaders or Ladybirds either. What about media and support staff on the sidelines – Will they be permitted or count towards the total attendance allowed?
Could they just make all fans who enter the stadium sign a liability waiver saying the University has taken steps for your safety, but you still enter at your own risk?
And what about tailgating? It can’t happen, right?
I’m not sure how you feel but I’ll do whatever it takes to be watching some Cardinal football ASAP.
As Always, GO CARDS!