How Alabama Football returns along with games in less than 3 months

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football will play this fall. Review the less than three-month plan to do it.

There will be football in the SEC in the coming season. Alabama football and the other 13 programs are working on details based on multiple scenarios. What had to happen first was getting the student-athletes back to campus for voluntary training.

Alabama football players and other student-athletes will return to campus on June 8. Other schools have chosen a June 15 date. Outside the SEC, Big 12 school, Oklahoma has delayed its athletes’ return to July 1.

Still in the process of being finalized are plans to begin football practices six weeks in advance of the season’s opening games. As reported by Ross Dellenger for and Pete Thamel for Yahoo Sports, a six-week practice schedule in advance of each team’s opening game is expected. Teams playing on Aug. 29 would begin the team-structured activities on July 18. Teams not playing until Labor Day weekend would start on July 25.

The first two weeks for each team would be organized team activities (OTA), similar to the OTA rules for the NFL. It would be a ‘no-contact’ period for players, who would work on skills training in position groups. For example, the offensive linemen and defensive linemen would practice separately.

The two weeks of OTAs would be voluntary sessions. It is possible, though unlikely, that some players will choose to skip them.  After two weeks of OTAs, a traditional fall camp would take place.

There are many questions left to be answered and not all of them can be answered in June. Player safety is the number one concern. Each school will implement its own protocol to guard the health of players. Planned guidelines at the University of Oklahoma have already been published. All players will be screened for COVID before workouts begin and daily after that. Player groups during OTAs will be 10 or fewer players and sessions will take place in “open-air or partially open-air” environments. All players and coaches will wear masks and “practice social distancing.”

The careful procedures planned by the Sooners may not be enough for other schools. Individual schools may implement more restrictive guidelines. Quarantine plans for potentially infected players must be in place. The Governors of some states may require a later schedule for return. It is not a stretch to anticipate the coming season may have a Quarantine Report to go along with Injury Reports. At the least, common fall storylines will be mixed with continued stories about the impact of COVID.

The other question, particularly of interest to Alabama football fans, is game attendance. There is no official news beyond various options being considered. Making such a decision too soon would be unwise, though some school administrators have candidly admitted they expect reduced stadium capacities. Possibly, 2020 game attendance may not include some of best fans in college football.

Until more time passes and more is learned, Alabama football fans cannot know the Bryant-Denny capacity for the first game on Sept. 12. We can be 99.9 percent sure there will be a season of football. Potential financial losses demand a season be played. Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis has estimated the 65, Power Five schools would lose four-billion dollars ($4B) from a canceled season.

Next. Extended Dead Period changes recruiting. dark

Take heart. There will be Alabama football this fall. And fans may enjoy it more than ever.