Alabama football does not have a fall camp start date yet but other teams do.
Currently, 10 teams will play on Aug. 29. Alabama football is not one, but Crimson Tide fans will still rejoice when Oklahoma, Kansas, Nevada and seven other schools play in week zero of the 2020 season.
Some optimism and excitement is overdue. A season beginning in week zero appears to be a 90-plus percent probability. College football fans don’t yet know the full menu of protections that will be by-products of COVID-19. Reduced stadium capacities are a given. Alabama football is expected to announce a Bryant-Denny capacity on Aug. 6. Whatever the number of fans allowed, the plan will include numerous ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ requirements.
All of us should be as concerned about how to protect players and coaches from the virus. It is a serious health risk for many coaches, even if it isn’t for young men. Perish the thought of Nick Saban becoming ill or being in quarantine for a game.
There are rumors some schools want to restrict player housing to select dorms with no players living off-campus. The University of Texas has mandated no parties, off or on-campus will be allowed. The mandate applies to all students, not just athletes. Though total compliance will be impossible, the city of Austin does not allow gatherings of more than 10 people.
Most schools are opening with a mixture of in-person and online classes. It would make sense for Alabama football and basketball players to choose only the online option.
The NCAA has previously issued quarantine guidelines, as explained by cbssports.com.
Players who test positive will be quarantined for 10 days, and others who have been in “high risk contact” with those players must be quarantined for 14 days. The NCAA defines “high risk” contact as being within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes in which one or more individuals are not wearing masks.
The NCAA made other recent decisions. Team sidelines, previously designated between the 25-yard lines will expand to the 15-yard lines. Even the coin toss will change with only two officials and two captains allowed at the center of the field. More, hopefully effective, controls are expected to follow.
Player equipment will change with a couple of schools already unveiling their full-face, shield, helmets. Keeping the shields from fogging up is a mystery.
The shield question is not the only mystery. Players will invariably have contact with friends and loved ones during the season. If those ‘others’ are not pre-tested and subject to quarantines, virus spread will likely occur.
There will never be enough attainable controls to ensure a full Alabama football season. None of us can claim to know what will transpire.