Virginia Tech doesn’t speak for all of college football but a key figure at the school opened up about massive potential changes coming to the sport as a result of the coronavirus.
Speaking on a conference call Wednesday, athletic director Walt Babcock told reporters that the entire calendar for CFB could be moved back just to get a full season in.
“Everyone wants to try to play a football season if it’s safe,” Babcock said, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Mike Barber. “We would be open to shifting the season, even if it overlapped with other sports.”
That comment isn’t just some AD speaking either. Babcock is a member of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, a key decision-making body. While he doesn’t speak for the committee as a whole, the fact that he is even bringing up the topic is notable.
It goes without saying that nobody knows just how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will play out over the coming months. Some, like Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, have advocated for bringing players back to campus as early as May. Most others are far more pessimistic.
Babcock also noted that he would rather wait to make things are safe enough for fans to return to stadiums as well. That is in line with other AD’s, with Texas A&M’s Ross Bjork noting the financial impact of playing in empty stadiums to go along with the eerie feeling.
Hokies head coach Justin Fuente was also on the call and was asked for his thoughts on a potential return to the gridiron. He seemed to indicate that while it’s not ideal, he may need as little as a month of camp prior to taking the field for a live game:
#Hokies coach Justin Fuente on how quickly a football team could get ready to play in the fall: "If we had to do it in a month, and the alternative was not doing it all, I think we could find a way to make it work."
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) April 8, 2020
That is a bit of a contrast to USC’s Clay Helton, who indicated he would need four weeks just to get ready for fall camp — so roughly two months before the season starts. Such conflicting views should underscore how difficult it will be for everybody to gather in support for one unified start date to the 2020 season.
Leaders in college athletics will have plenty of time to work through all that in the coming days, weeks and months. The good news, at least, is that there are far fewer questions about if college football gets played again and far more comments about when it gets played again going forward.