Les Miles says season to start in fall, SEC expert declares no fans in stands
ATHENS — The future of college football is evolving, blurred as it might still be.
Kansas coach Les Miles said on Thursday there will be a season starting in 2020 during his interview with Kansas City radio station 610.
“We’re going to play college football in the fall,” Miles said. “That’s what’s been said. OK? That’s the key piece.
“The schedule, now we’ve got to make sure that we’re safe with our kids. Our players, when they take the field, it’s got to be done with the idea that we’re doing it with them in mind. Yeah, I think you’ll find that will be the ultimate piece.”
Several questions remain unanswered as to what must transpire between now and the start of the season.
Much of what happens is beyond the individual universities’ control, with federal and state leadership influencing each decision.
“The circumstances around this virus will guide us.” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told CBS Sports on Thursday.
“I‘m not an epidemiologist, an immunologist, a biostatistician or a researcher,” he said. “We have 11 states [in the SEC], and there are different approaches in those 11 states.”
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity explained to DawgNation how UGA is working on several provisional plans for how football players and fans could return.
“We’re just working through numerous models so that we can be ready to respond,” McGarity said, “to whatever social distancing protocol will be in place.
“I think it’s OK to say we do’t know, and we don’t know. We’re hoping and planning, but that’s all we can do.’’
UGA president Jere Morehead said earlier this spring he has nine different groups working on how the school will handle students amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our expectation at this point is that we’ll have a normal football season and be able to play all of our games,” Morehead said in an interview with WGAU.
“Certainly our hope and expectation is that we’ll have fans in stands, and we hope that we’ll have our players here at some point during the month of July.”
Oregon governor Kate Brown said Thursday she doesn’t anticipate fans in the stands in her state until October.
“Large gatherings, including live sporting events with audiences, concerts, festivals and conventions will not be able to return until we have a reliable treatment or prevention like a vaccine,” Brown said on Thursday.
“The Oregon Health Authority is advising that any large gathering, at least through September, should either be canceled or significantly modified.”
Meanwhile in Tennessee, the head of a government-appointed task force evaluating the re-opening of University of Tennessee campuses said there will be no fans in Neyland Stadium this season.
“You’re not going to have spectators in Neyland Stadium this year,” Dr. Jon McCullers, associate executive dean at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine and an expert on influenza and pandemics, told the Daily Memphian.
“That’s just not going to happen. Whether people want to think it will or not – it’s not going to happen. The question is: Do we play football without spectators?”
McCullers said he’s being told that it will be a conference decision if teams play without fans in the stands.
Sankey has left the door open for the SEC to have a football season even if not all conferences are on board.
“The conferences have this history of making decisions and have made decisions that resulted in consistency,” Sankey said, asked if all 10 conferences need to be aligned for the season to start.
“That is very much the clear desire and clear preference in this circumstance.”
The circumstances, however, continue to change and evolve.
Every week, it’s a different story.
“It continues to be a fluid situation,” McGarity said. “And we learn more everyday.”
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