Thamel: “I Don’t See A Path For College Football”

Fans may not want to believe it, but the 2020 college football season is very much in jeopardy

The DA Show
July 15, 2020 - 11:38 am

As Pete Thamel observed in a recent column, the 2020 college football season is on the rocks. And by “on the rocks,” we mean “unlikely to happen.”

“We still haven’t practiced yet,” Thamel said on The DA Show. “Nobody knows how this virus is going to react if a player practices. How many people on the team would get it? Ultimately, there’s 13,000 18-to-22-year-olds in FBS football, and without a bubble to protect them, if you throw them in [the] petri dish of a college campus – college dorms are basically just cruise ships that don’t move. There’s just no way to keep the virus away. Things are so dim right now.”

Unless, of course, you live in an alternate universe.

“[Tennessee athletic director] Phillip Fulmer said two weeks ago they’re going to have Neyland Stadium full,” Thamel said. “There are still some folks who are stuck in their own world.”

The dilemma, to be clear, isn’t playing games without fans; it’s playing games, period.

“I think playing the games without fans right now is something they’re trying to figure out a path to,” Thamel said. “Now if it’s the spring and Jonas Salk 2.0 shows up and gives us the vaccine that allows everyone to get their lives back, certainly some sort of fan option could happen. But to me, in the fall, the fan ship has sailed in a lot of ways.”

Universities could try to implement a bubble like the NBA, but that would be difficult – not to mention costly.

“The bubble is always going to be hard on a college campus just because of the academic component and all that stuff,” Thamel said. “The NBA is spending $150 million to keep its bubble secure. Could you do that at two dozen schools? Could you figure out a way to do it to play some games? Yes, you could. I don’t think people have got there yet, but until there’s a bubble option or some sort of medical advancement, I don’t see a path for college football.”

Certainly not in the fall, at least. As for spring, who knows?

“Who knows how different things are going to be in six months?” Thamel asked. “But if you have your players on a campus with thousands of other students and you can’t control the living situations, the classroom situations and then obviously human nature – restaurants, bars, etc. – it’s really hard to imagine. Just look at the tenor and size of the outbreaks – and this is what we know about, what’s been reported. I know for a fact that other places have had large outbreaks and just haven’t reported them. The problem is worse on campuses with players back than we know publicly. I just can’t see how that stops.”