UCLA's Chip Kelly on the 2020 season: 'I’ll leave are we going to play up to the experts'

Nick Bromberg
·3 min read

UCLA coach Chip Kelly isn’t going to get into the business into wading into coronavirus topics that he doesn’t fully have a grasp on.

Kelly met with reporters on Thursday and was asked about the possibility of a 2020 football season. He didn’t offer his prediction and instead chose to defer to people more well versed in viral infections and public health on that topic.

“I’ll leave are we going to play up to the experts,” Kelly said. “There’s medical experts who understand this a whole lot better than any football coach ever would. And it’s a lot bigger than football. I talked to [ESPN analyst] Lee Corso this week and his comment to me was, ‘The game of football is not more important than one person’s life.’ And I think he’s 100-percent correct and I agree with him 100 percent.”

Kelly’s smart deference comes the same week as Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s wild coronavirus comments. Gundy said he hoped that Oklahoma State could start having staffers back in the football building on May 1 despite a Big 12 ban on in-person sports activities through May 31. Gundy also said that healthy young men of a college age could potentially fight off the virus and that football needed to start to help run money through the state of Oklahoma.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

Football without fans?

No one knows just how the 2020 season will begin logistically. Will fans be allowed in the stands? Can college football begin if in-person classes haven’t started on campuses? Will all 130 programs at the top level of college football come to some sort of consensus on how to run the season? How will state and local officials’ rules impact the start of the football season?

Kelly said he didn’t think it was feasible to play football games without fans in the stands.

“If it’s not safe for fans to attend the game then I don’t know why it would be safe for players to participate in the game,” Kelly said. “But, again, those are things that we don’t control. I don’t have any say in what’s going on. I think the medical people who are in charge will … the governors of the states and the mayors are the ones that are going to tell you if we can do it because the NCAA can say, ‘You’re all going back,’ and if Governor [Gavin] Newsom says we’re not going back, then we’re not going back.”

Newsom has already said that he doesn’t anticipate the NFL season starting on time with fans in the state of California in September and it’s obvious those sentiments would extend to college football games as well.

“I’m not anticipating that happening, in this state,” Newsom said over the weekend after President Donald Trump met with professional sports commissioners. NCAA officials were not on that call. “We’ve all seen the headlines over the last couple days, in Asia, where they were opening up certain businesses and now they’re starting to roll back those openings because they’re starting to see some spread. There’s a boomerang. One has to be very cautious here, one has to be careful not to over-promise.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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