Alabama Football: Camps delayed, school and football likely but format unknown

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

As states re-open, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey talks football. Amid optimism Alabama football will compete this fall, there remains much unknown.

There has been good news about the expected return of Alabama football this fall. The devil is in the details. The University of Alabama has announced it intends to welcome students back to Tuscaloosa. What that will involve in virus testing and limitations on physical contact is not, and cannot, yet be known.

The interval between May and the traditional fall semester start in mid-August will bring new ideas, advances in virus protection, and hopefully significantly less risk. The exact statement by University President, Stuart Bell was,

"it (the University) has been planning for and will continue to work toward in-person instruction this fall on the regular schedule, while the possibility of returning to in-person classes for the Summer 2 term is also being reviewed."

Bell also said,

"our plan is that we’ll have a (football) season and we’ll have fans as part of that season in our stadium."

What remains in terms of football is when, how and in what format. Again, much is unknown. While expressing optimism about a fall season through its Commissioner, Greg Sankey, the SEC continues to be cautious.

Nick Saban has stated players will need to make up for missed time before beginning a fall camp. That could take place in July. Then fall camp could begin as normal around August 1. During the first week or so of fall camp, Nick Saban and his Alabama football staff would have to squeeze in recruit visits and camps for high school players. As we recently discussed those camp tryouts for high school players have long been a mainstay of Saban’s recruiting.

Beyond future scheduling details, there is still an unanswered question of what the 2020 football season will be.

Last week, Nick Saban posed questions yet to be answered.

"Are we going to have seats between fans? Are we going to come up with a solution that allows people to go to games? Are we going to have to test people to get in stadiums? Are we going to have to play games with nobody?"

Greg Sankey offered some clue by saying the league could play even if some of its members chose to deviate. Alex Scarborough reported while Sankey and others prefer “unity” it is not a “necessity.” Sankey was speaking about the conferences having different plans, but the same could be true inside a conference. States may impose different restrictions limiting contact at sporting events. That could mean a 2020 schedule would be conference games only.

The NCAA can impose new practice restrictions. It cannot force every school to begin on a set date. For example, it appears Southern Cal will likely have a delayed practice schedule due to no on-campus students until at least Aug. 12. If that happens it will possibly mean a September date with Alabama football will not happen.

Everyone who participates in or follows college football hopes for a normal season. It is too soon to know what will happen. Optimism is warranted. But reality will dictate what happens. As Commissioner Sankey stated, “the virus is going to determine what happens.”

Next. An early look at the 2021 NFL Draft. dark

Money is also a factor in future football decisions. Some FCS schools and perhaps some FBS, non-Power Five schools will struggle to adjust financially if fan attendance at games is restricted.