Plenty of questions remain unanswered regarding the college football season this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the Big Ten and Pac-12 have announced they’ll play conference-only schedules, and others have canceled fall sports completely, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said on Tuesday that he thinks a legitimate season can still be played if it is simply delayed several weeks.
“I don’t anticipate a 12-game schedule,” Swarbrick said, via ESPN. “I’d like to start a little later. The value of starting later is you really get to see how your university has done. You have the benefit of all of that information and knowledge, and so I’d like to start a little later.
“The number for me is probably somewhere between eight and 10 [games], but whatever is right for the health and safety of the players.”
There were nearly 4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Tuesday night, according to The New York Times, and almost 142,000 deaths attributed to it. The country set a new single-day record on Thursday, recording more than 75,000 new cases alone, and is averaging more than 66,000 new cases each day over the past week.
Both the Big Ten and the Pac-12 conferences have opted to play conference-only schedules, decisions that remove three opponents — Wisconsin, Stanford and USC — from Notre Dame’s schedule. Meanwhile, the Big 12, SEC and ACC have yet to make any decisions. The ACC and SEC are expected to announce its plans for the season later this month. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has repeatedly expressed his concerns and doubt about safely starting football season on time.
One high-ranking college official told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel last week that “ultimately, no one is playing football” this fall, and that it’s “just a matter of how it unfolds.”
While Swarbrick wants the start of the season to be delayed, he isn’t sure when that can actually happen — and compared finding a safe starting state to “working with a Rubik’s Cube.”
"I think there are a lot of moving parts to those decisions," Swarbrick said, via ESPN. "One is when do we start the competitive season? That's an important first question that has to be answered. It's only after you decide when we're comfortable starting, that sets your practice timeline, it sets how many games you can likely try and get into the season.
"And then you get into the details of the schedule, and try to create room for extra off weeks to manage issues that might arise. What's your approach going to be? I think you'll see the details of the schedules start to emerge, but it begins with saying, when are we going to start?"
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