Coronavirus has canceled March Madness and wiped out all spring NCAA sports. College football hopefully won't be next.
Obviously, the hope is that the social distancing measures already underway will help slow the devastating effects of COVID-19 and help us all eventually return to a sense of normalcy. That would mean the return of sports in at least some form. However, we're still seeing instances of people nationwide not taking the situation seriously.
That's why USA TODAY columnist Dan Wolken has a bold idea for college football coaches during this difficult time. He wants them to speak directly to their fans, via PSAs, and deliver the message that if people don't comply with quarantine and distancing regulations, college football won't be happening.
"While most of us are under the impression that things will generally return to normal this summer and the college football season will kick off on schedule, the lack of certainty about what the country is going to look like in August and September is the elephant in the room for every athletics director," Wolken writes.
In his column, Wolken correctly notes that in many parts of the country, this type of messaging is more effective coming from a football coach than it is from a politician or medical professional.
The message is simple, direct and easy to digest: Slowing the spread of COVID-19, and thus having a football season, depends on everyone complying with social distancing. In certain parts of the country, having that public service announcement come from a college football coach would reach a whole bunch more people than a politician or a doctor could.
It is tough to argue that point. Even in solidly "red" states, like Alabama and South Carolina, fans are more likely to listen to Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney than they are to Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
We've already seen some coaches, like LSU's Ed Orgeron and Ohio State's Ryan Day, reach out to fans. Hopefully more will follow suit.
College football is culturally embedded in the fabric of this country, particularly in the South and the Midwest. If the season is delayed or canceled, it will have a devastating impact.
Let's hope it doesn't get to that point.