The coronavirus pandemic is front and center across the world and that includes the realm of athletics as well.
While much of the recent discourse has been about the potential for holding spring football practice at some point in the near future, others are looking further ahead on the calendar. Though there has been an assumption that the COVID-19 outbreak can be contained enough to the point where the fall season can go on as scheduled, that may not wind up being the case. Such concerns are normally spoken in hushed tones but Virginia head coach Broncon Mendenhall broached the subject earlier this week and told reporters he is preparing for a very long break ahead with his team.
“We’re preparing exactly with that model in place,” Mendenhall told 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 be a full schedule played this year — if football is played, period.”
The ACC has already canceled spring sports competition and halted practices the rest of the academic year. There has been some talk among coaches and administrators that there could be an extended fall camp as a way to acclimate players and get them ramped up to speed in order to prevent injuries but nothing has been settled on.
Such thinking, however, is likely optimistic with every passing day that COVID-19 numbers grow and the health care system gets strained further.
Mendenhall, it seems, is smartly preparing for things going the other way on the calendar compared to most. While he’s not the first to think it, going public with concerns that the football season remains in peril this fall is notable coming from the recent ACC Coastal champion.
Who knows when things might return back to any semblance of normalcy but it sounds like at least one football coach is thinking that won’t be anytime soon.