"No man ever steps in the same river twice," said Heraclitus. Or so the story goes. I'm always a little big skeptical of famous-quote attribution, but the point here is the idea.
The current stream of news feels a bit like that. On Monday, Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos made it clear he was concerned about spring practices. On Wednesday, I wrote about which Power 5 schools had gotten some spring practice in and which ones hadn't as, this being college football, that seemed certain to become a point of contention in the weeks and months ahead.
Now, on Friday, we have one of our first Power 5 coaches talking about the potential for a shortened season, if there's a season at all. Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said he's putting together a plan if his team isn't able to reconvene until August 1.
"We're preparing exactly with that model in place," Mendenhall said during a videoconference. "We're acting as if, and we're making preparations as if, we won't have spring practice. We possibly won't have players here for summer school, any session, and possibly we won't have the opportunity for anything other than fall camp to begin.
"Knowing that fall camp timing might even be pushed back, meaning that there certainly could be a chance that it's not even be a full schedule played this year — if football is played, period."
Virginia, 17-10 in two seasons under Mendenhall, is scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 7, Labor Day, against Georgia in Atlanta.
Former Colorado and Northwestern head coach Gary Barnett also isn't taking the 2020 college football season for granted at this point.
"I think 2020, as we know it, is in jeopardy," he said in an interview with Chris Schmidt of Hail Varsity Radio on Thursday. "Everything's just going to have to be different. And we're going to have to get used to it and adjust and roll with the punches. Not that I don't think it can get back to it, but I don't think it can get back to it in 2020. Things are going to have change quickly if that were to happen."
How quickly things change will be the key. Estimates for the peak of COVID-19 in the United States continue to change, and should. We don't know yet if any measures taken thus far are actively flattening the curve. On top of that, it's hard to know where a coach, or any sports administrator, might be stepping into the river (so to speak).
For now, it might still just be contingency planning. Mendenhall, and his fellow coaches, have to at least ask that question and have some sort of plan in place. Problem is, they're planning for almost every scenario at this point.
Staff Picks – Day 3
Pretty simple today. I think "What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?" by Richard Ben Cramer is the best sports magazine story ever written. Or at least it's my favorite.
Often, those two things are not the same.
The Grab Bag
- Good read from Greg Smith on what it’s like for recruits in the 2021 class during this dead period.
- Nebraska basketball roster review continues courtesy of Jacob Padilla. (Premium)
- It’s an uncertain time everywhere, but especially so for junior-college prospects.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.