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How Will Coronavirus Impact College Football?

(Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

SALT LAKE CITY – The one saving grace to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus has been the thought that college football will be here in five months. But with reports that the 2020 Summer Olympics are being postponed, are we kidding ourselves into thinking that college football is going to start without any interruption?

The Olympic games were scheduled to take place from July 24th to August 9th. That’s right in the midst of college football training camps opening up across the country.

Could we see a postponed start to the college football season?

The Olympics are far bigger than college football and have a lot more variables bringing in athletes from around the world to compete in one city for two weeks. But the postponement of the Olympics still raises some potential concern for the upcoming college football season.

Spring practices around the country are being canceled or not played at all. Athletes are trying to find ways to stay in shape on their own. Recruiting is completely shut down until at least April 15th, and that might be a generous return date.

Virginia head coach and former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is preparing for a “modified college football season” this fall.

“We’re preparing exactly with that model in place,” Mendenhall said to CBS Sports. “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 (going to) be a full schedule played this year — if football is played, period,” Mendenhall continued. “I’m willing to look at that vision as far as possible saying, ‘What if there is no football this season,’ or ‘What if there is a modified season?’”

College sports lives off the money generated from college football

The money generated from college football is what makes everything go in collegiate athletics. The money gained from the Men’s Basketball NCAA Tournament is north of a billion, but it pales to the money that all the Football Bowl Subdivision programs bring in over the course of an entire season.

For example, in the 2018-19 academic year according to the U.S. Department of Education, the University of Utah football program generated $63 million in revenue last school year. The next closest was men’s basketball at $10.5 million.

Down at BYU, the football program generated $23 million in revenue and Men’s Basketball was a distant second at $7.4 million.

Entire athletic departments and universities would suffer potential devastating losses with a postponement or modified season.

The health of the athletes

Anyone close to a college football program would tell you that the strength and conditioning coaches spend as much time – if not more – with the players as the full-time coaches on the staff. What happens to the health of the athletes while they are away from a college football weight room and training facility?

Decades ago that was the norm, with handfuls of players coming into fall camp out of shape because summer conditioning wasn’t as big as it is today. But now it’s key to the success in the fall and without the ability to have the athletes on-campus training every day, sets up possibilities of kids losing or gaining lots of weight, and not being into their peak athletic shape that they would have been had they still been training on campus.

There’s still a lot of time between now and September 3rd when college football kicks off here in the state of Utah. But seeing sports starting to be postponed in the summer months raises some pause as to what we can expect with football this fall.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth service through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If  you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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