In order for college football to kick off on time in late August, players will have to get on campus in ample time and get enough practicing and conditioning in to be ready to play in live games. The Covid-19 pandemic has cast a cloud over professional sports leagues as well as college athletics. Uncertainty abounds, and it can be easy to look at the worst case scenario.
For Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, he’s preparing for the best case scenario and going about his business as if the season will start on time. On Jay Nordlinger’s Q&A Podcast, Harbaugh was asked if he expects the football season to start on time or if he doesn’t think in those terms. “Hope and going to prepare,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not going to give it one thought that it’s not going to happen, because it’s like being a quarterback. I learned that it’s better to be prepared and not have the opportunity, than to not prepare and your chance comes and your opportunity comes and you’re not prepared to do it.”
Whether the season starts on time or not will be left up to scientists and local and public health officials. With various forms of stay at home orders in 48 of 50 states, the hope is the social distancing guidelines being practiced will drastically reduce the spread of the coronavirus and allow society to get back up and running sooner rather than later. However, Governor Gavin Newsom of California recently said he doesn’t anticipate professional teams in his state playing in front of full stadiums this August and September. “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state,” Newsom said. “We’ve all seen the headlines over the last couple days in Asia, where they opening up certain businesses, and now they’re starting to roll back those openings because they’re starting seeing some spread and there’s a boomerang. One has to be very cautious here, one has to be careful not to overpromise.”
Newsom’s approach is pragmatic, while Harbaugh’s is hopeful. “You got to not have one thought that it won’t happen,” Harbaugh said. With the best scientists in the world looking for solutions to eliminate or drastically reduce the spread of Covid-19, there is room to hope that a remedy’s found in the next few months to get back to some semblance of normalcy.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is in the Harbaugh camp when it comes to optimism. “Everything I’m starting to hear in terms of the science is coming along and the medical advances that we’re making to fight this thing makes me very positive,” Cuban said. “If I had to bet, and this is more a guess than a bet, I’d say early June is when you see (NBA) teams start to take the field and maybe play games just for television.”
In short, we really don’t know what’s going to happen these next few months and we’re going to have to take the news as it comes. The night the NBA season was suspended due to Covid-19 was shocking back on March 11, maybe there will be positive developments that are sudden and surprising coming this summer for the world and for college football as well.
Harbaugh is currently spending time with his family, making lots of phone calls, and missing being around his players and staff. “I miss the team being together and practicing. And the coaches, the managers,” Harbaugh said. “Everybody being around and working toward a goal. Just the company. They’re fun, hilarious, and good guys. Being around them everyday, I miss ‘em.”