With the future of the 2020 college football season still uncertain, teams across conferences are taking different measures to ensure that there is a season to play. A predicted problem with the upcoming season will be containing the spread of the virus if one or more players are to test positive.
On the July 16 episode of RebTalk, head football coach Lane Kiffin posited not practicing as a way to better prepare his team for this season.
“Everyone’s acting like it’s practice, but it’s not practice. It’s just basically conditioning workouts. We’re still not allowed to use a ball,” he said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the South Eastern Conference (SEC) are implementing limitations on football team’s training to help teams maintain social distancing and other safety precautions while the coronavirus pandemic persists. However, Kiffin said it is possible that the team will continue training with the same precautions even if the restrictions are lifted.
“The best teams may be the ones that just stay healthy, and maybe that means you don’t even practice as much because you don’t want kids close to each other,” Kiffin said.
The current standards handed down from the NCAA are issued for all fall sports, but they are mainly sanctioned for football. The standards state that “all individuals with high-risk” exposure must be quarantined for 14 days, and the NCAA uses the official Centers for Disease Control (CDC) definition of high risk exposure: “any situation in which there has been greater than 15 minutes of close contact, defined as being less than 6 feet apart, with an infectious individual.”
“I’ve even thought there may be times in the season (that) we’re just going to walk through and keep our space and not even (fully) practice,” Kiffin said. “(Hopefully) we will have more players than the other teams, and that’s one of the major problems trying to figure this out: how are you going to follow quarantine rules when your quarterback gets it, so his whole room should be shut down for 14 days? How do you even do that?”
If a position player were to get the virus, his whole position would have to quarantine for two weeks, possibly missing two games. Another possible scenario would be if a cornerback or wide receiver were to test positive for coronavirus, and the team had run one-on-one’s during practice; not only could the team lose the infected player, but the entire receiving core and secondary could be out as well. There are countless other examples in which multiple positions could be affected by one positive test.
With Kiffin valuing players’ health over practice time, he could prevent himself from having to use players out of position, even though they may not be as polished. Another factor in Kiffin’s decision could be to keep Ole Miss healthy for the Egg Bowl, which is still scheduled to be the last game of the season. With coronavirus looming over college football, fans are waiting to see how Kiffin and his staff move forward with practice and the upcoming season.