Earlier today, the SEC sent a major signal that we may, in fact, get college football this fall. The league schools have approved allowing athletes back on campus on June 8, up to the discretion of the individual universities.
As the biggest of the power conferences in FBS football, this is a huge bit of news for the coming season. The rest of the major leagues may very well follow suit here, as the conferences have been somewhat in concert in their decision making surrounding the current situation, at least over the last few weeks. The June 8 date gives programs enough time to get ready to play a season beginning in September.
“This is a significant move, in terms of re-opening college football,” ESPN/SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum said on SportsCenter after the decision was rendered. “I know it’s a small step, but that’s what you had to do, because everything had been shut down. So, it was expected, but it’s still significant in the fact that we’re finally moving forward.”
“What’s so remarkable about this is four weeks ago, you would talk to athletic directors and commissioners. Privately, they were very pessimistic about getting to this point this quickly. That has all changed,” he continued. “It’s a very successful move, it’s a positive move, and I think college football fans are getting closer to seeing football at the normal time in September, as opposed to some other bizarre winter sport that has been proposed by some people.
Finebaum doesn’t think this step by the SEC should be understated. Obviously, we can’t have any major setbacks between now and September, but this vote establishes a timeframe for the offseason, and gets the ball rolling towards a September start.
“It may seem like a baby step to some people watching around the country and they’re saying, ‘Well, what’s the big deal? Folks are just going back into weight room.’ But it is a big deal because without doing this now, it would be very difficult to start the season on time,” Finebaum added during the SportsCenter appearance. “Most coaches have said 4-6 weeks, more six weeks than others.”
“I also talked to Nick Saban about this the other day, he said we need an ‘OTA,’ that’s an NFL term, but it’s critical because one thing to remember, none of these schools had spring practice… It’s critical for the health and well-being of these athletes to get in there now, and do some work, and condition themselves to get ready for the rigors of the late summer workouts which are done in scorching heat in the South, as you know.”
This is certainly good news for those of us who want football in the fall. Hopefully we continue to move in a direction that doesn’t interrupt the progress that is being made towards that goal.