FSU Coach Chris Thomsen

  • All of the conferences in the Power 5 will be playing a fall football season in spite of the coronavirus pandemic still impacting the country.
  • The virus has had an impact on teams and games so far in only the fourth week of FBS college football
  • With the protocols and regulations in place for the season, CFP officials are still planning on giving these teams a road to the National Championship.

IRVING, Texas – College Football is ramping up, with top conferences returning, limited schedules and intense health protocols as the entire league works hard to have a small resemblance of normalcy in this season full of COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

College sports were always a big question mark when it came to putting on a sporting season while trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus because of the most overwhelming difference between the NCAA and professional sports: college campuses.

In the months before most college semesters started, it seemed that there would be little if any college football this season but now, every Power 5 conference will have teams suiting up and taking the field.

The ACC and the Big 12 were the first two conferences of the Power 5 football schools to begin their seasons, with the SEC beginning on Sept 26, the Big Ten on Oct 24, and the Pac-12 starting on Nov. 6.

Outside of the Power 5, college football as a league is in Week 4 and already 22 games have been affected by contact tracing and positive tests of COVID-19.

The Houston Cougars have had their fourth attempt of a season opener postponed due to the coronavirus. The Houston-North Texas that was set for Saturday has joined Houston’s previous games against Baylor, Memphis, and Rice as a COVID-related postponement or cancelation.

Arkansas State has postponed its home game against Tulsa because of too many positive tests and Notre Dame at Wake Forest has been rescheduled for Dec 12 because of contact tracing that has 13 Irish players in isolation.

The Pac-12 and the Big Ten, who both initially planned on postponing the football season to 2021, have announced they will conduct daily testing in hopes to reduce the burden of contact tracing and identify positive cases quicker as their season begins this year.

The Pac-12 will be the last of the Power 5 conferences to start their season which could put them in a good position to see what more protocols to put in place.

The conference has already decided on a seven-game, conference-only schedule and along with the daily coronavirus test, athletes will have to pass a weekly PCR test. The PCR test a specific test that detects the virus’s genetic material and shows active coronavirus infection.

The Big Ten announced its decision to have a fall season 37 days after postposing the season and medical presentations that outlined the enhanced protocols that would be put in place.

“Medical opinion changed,” said Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C). “Paul Samuelson, the great economist, was once asked why he changed his mind, and he said, ‘When the facts change, my mind changes.’ Doesn’t the same thing happen for you? The facts change, our minds change.”

One conference that has not changed its mind is the SEC, who publicly never planned on postponing this fall season. The 10-game conference only schedule will commence on Saturday but with COVID-19 cases rising in around the teams’ campuses could present issues.

Of these 12 southern region states that the teams are located in, all but two states are labeled as an uncontrolled spread state in COVID-19 response. Georgia and Louisiana home to UGA and LSU respectfully are labeled as “trending poorly” which is only one grade higher than the rest.

The head coach of LSU, Ed Orgeron, has stated that the coronavirus has definitely spread throughout his team already.

“Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” said Orgeron last week. “I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not out for games.”

All of these teams hope that the spread of COVID-19 does not interrupt their season especially because many of these teams have their hearts on postseason success. Legal sports betting sites have odds of the SEC championship posted with Alabama (-130) as the pre-season favorite.

Further than that, the defending National Champions and others are still set on a run at the 2021 College Football Playoffs.

Even with the rocky start to this season, CFP officials are still planning to have a playoff as scheduled. Currently, the first weekly ranking of the CFP is scheduled for November 17.

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