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A&M hopes to be ‘ready for football,’ but what will it look like?

Football will be back, but don’t expect it to be the same.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Texas A&M John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Many an ear across the Aggie internet perked up today when an article in the Texas Tribune claimed Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp “told all 11 university presidents in the system that they will reopen their campuses this fall and be ready to play sports.” The most notable sport, for obvious reasons, is football.

The past few years months weeks have been difficult in some way or another for everyone. Some people have lost loved ones, others have lost jobs, while others are simply suffering through a constrained lifestyle that is very different than the one they’ve become accustomed to. None of us have been unaffected, and we’d all like nothing more than to have the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview mirror and get back to doing the things we love that we can’t do right now. Certainly for many Aggies, that means going to Texas A&M football games. But don’t get your hopes up that it will happen any time soon.

Yes, on-campus classes at Texas A&M will likely be held this fall, and football will almost certainly be played. But it is still likely that both of these will look very different that normal. While we are all hopeful that the worst of the Coronavirus crisis is behind us, we’ll probably see precautionary measures in some form or another for months to come, if not years. For campus classes, that could be reduced class sizes (having half the class watch online on alternating days), for football it could very well mean playing games with no fans at all.

No Midnight Yell. No tailgating. No Corps march-in. No Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, No 12th Man in the stands. Playing Texas A&M football without all of the usual trappings that make it what it is feels so foreign, and it’s something that just a few months ago we couldn’t fathom would ever occur. But it’s something that we’ll likely have to soon experience.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Texas A&M
This might be what halftime of a 2020 college football game looks like
John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Going back to “normal” for the 2020 college football season seem almost impossible at this point. Cramming 100,000 people into a stadium on the heels of a worldwide pandemic is almost certainly something that A&M, or any major college or professional sports program, is not going to be comfortable with. And will that suck in a lot of ways? Absolutely. Tailgating, cheering in the stands and the communal aspect of sports are a huge part of what makes them great. Watching a great play and hearing zero response other than the announcers in the booth will be incredibly surreal. It may be even a little boring at times, but we’ll just have to shift the proverbial goalposts for what a college football experience looks like. In the broad scheme of the sacrifices that people here and around the world have had to make in recent months, having our football games be slightly less exciting is a pretty darn small one.

Football may be different. It may not be quite as good. But the good news is that it will probably happen. And at a time when so many of the joys of life that we normally take for granted are suddenly gone, that’s something worth getting excited about. Most Aggies, and many others around the country, are optimistic about the team we have in 2020. If they play to their potential, with the schedule they have in front of them, they could do some great things. But maybe the greatest thing of all is that it appears the season will actually happen. That alone is something to look forward to, even if it will look and feel different than what we are used to.