While ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit says he’ll be shocked if the college football season happens as scheduled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor wishes Herbstreit wouldn’t have said anything at all.
In an interview with KMAN in Manhattan, Kansas, on Monday, Taylor said he wasn’t ready to start making predictions about the fate of the 2020 football season. And he also made sure to express his displeasure with Herbstreit’s comments.
“I appreciate Kirk becoming a medical doctor and telling us what we should or shouldn’t do,” Taylor said in the interview. “But I’m not ready to go there yet. I certainly am hopeful that if we maintain the recommendations of some medical folks and stay away from one another and be careful and not do any public events in crowds, maybe life in 60-90 days will be at a point where we can bring our kids back to campus and at least practice sometime in July. I think a lot of coaches feel that if we had a 10 or 12 or 14-day reacclimatization period that they could get into fall camp in the early August time frame. So I’m not ready to pull that plug yet, I’m just hoping that we maintain the things that the medical folks are telling us to maintain.”
Herbstreit said on ESPN Radio last week that he would be shocked if there was a football season because of the coronavirus vaccine timeline. Health officials and experts have said a vaccine won’t be available to the public until early 2021 and Herbstreit reasoned that the lack of a vaccine could make it impossible for football to happen.
It’s not an illogical take, especially if our social distancing practices don’t do enough in the coming months to ward off the spread of the virus thanks to the United States’ lack of testing. And Taylor did admit in his interview that it could be a possibility that college football games are played without fans this fall.
“I think all that’s potentially on the table,” he said. “I can see us also trying to push the season a couple weeks so you can still get most of the games in, if not all of them. And push them in a little more into December. I think we do have the flexibility only having 12 weeks.”
The cancellation or reduction of the 2020 college football season would have massive financial impacts across the board in college athletics. Athletic departments rely on the revenue from football games and associated television contracts to prop up their budgets. Without that revenue, lots of schools will be facing massive operating deficits.
That’s also independent of the NCAA’s smaller than anticipated financial distribution because of the cancellation of the NCAA tournaments. The NCAA gave out less than half of its anticipated distribution because there were no men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and NCAA execs are also taking pay cuts.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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