The debate over whether college football should be played has become white hot in recent days, with the Big Ten Conference and Pac-10 Conference both deciding to cancel their seasons.
Despite their decisions, President Donald Trump has continued to campaign for a season to take place, retweeting a post from Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence of the #WeWanttoPlay movement with the added message, “The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay.”
Whether or not any teams or conferences will actually step forward and salvage the 2020 season remains to be seen, but even the biggest proponent of playing, the Southeastern Conference (SEC), has come forward stating that it will not play if all other conferences decide to cancel this upcoming fall.
SEC Commissioner Updates College Football Fans on Possible Season
According to a report from Jon Hale of the Louisville Courier-Journal, the SEC, flanked by medical experts, is still moving forward with its plans to play college football this fall.
The lone caveat is a big one, however: the conference will not play if no other conferences do in 2020.
“I don’t think that’s the right direction, really,” Sankey said when asked if the SEC would be comfortable as the lone conference playing football in the fall.
“Could we? Certainly. There’s a difference between can you do something and should you do something in life.
“We’re actually set up our schedule with our own health protocols; we could, if that’s the circumstance, operate on our own. I’m not sure that’s the wisest direction.”
Sankey also downplayed reports that the league is considering inviting schools from other conferences to play in the SEC this year to pick up the slack for their cancelled seasons.
He added that his conference is taking things slow and consulting with medical experts on each next step toward getting players back on the field.
ACC Medical Expert Says Football Can Be Played Safely
While some of the biggest name schools in college football like USC, Oregon, Michigan and Ohio State are almost certain to not play college football at all this year, the ACC appears ready to potentially go forward with plans to play in 2020.
On Tuesday, ESPN reported that Duke infectious disease expert Dr. Cameron Wolfe said that doctors have learned enough over the last six months to manage the risks involved with the coronavirus.
“We believe we can mitigate it down to a level that makes everyone safe,” Wolfe told Sports Business Daily.
“Can we safely have two teams meet on the field? I would say yes. Will it be tough? Yes. Will it be expensive and hard and lots of work?
“For sure. But I do believe you can sufficiently mitigate the risk of bringing COVID onto the football field or into the training room at a level that’s no different than living as a student on campus.”
Last week, the ACC set up an 11-game schedule with 10 of those games slated as interconference matchups.
This season, if it does go forward in the ACC, will also include the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Wolfe told commissioner John Swofford there is no way to completely eliminate risk, however.
“You can’t tell me that running onto a football field is supposed to be a zero-risk environment,” Wolfe said.
“Look at all of the regular sporting injuries that we accept as a certain level of risk as part and parcel of football. Now the reality is that we have to accept a little bit of COVID risk to be a part of that.”
Whether or not that’s enough to let the players play remains to be seen, but we will all find out soon enough.