Texas A&M begins fall football practice today, and while that is certainly nothing but good news, it’s also never felt more hollow. Normally the start of fall camp feels as much like a finish line as it does a starting point; the completion of an arduous, football-free offseason that we all somehow survive. This year the offseason has reached new levels of arduous that we didn’t even know were possible, but the sad reality is that while practices may be getting underway, we are still far from certain about what the 2020 season will look like. Or if it will happen at all.
Just like everything else right now, practices will look different. It will start with a five-day acclimatization period, practice time is limited to 20 hours per week, and the team can hold a maximum of 25 practices between now and the scheduled season opener on Sept. 26. And all this will be happening while players try to social distance, wear masks and go through twice weekly COVID-19 testing (if not more) when they’re away from practice.
There is a lot of work continuing to be done behind the scenes, both at A&M and throughout the SEC, to find a way to make this season happen. And they’re releasing the football schedule tonight (6 p.m. CT on SEC Network), so plans continue to move forward. But it also seems a bit fruitless to talk about position battles, freshmen earning early playing time and the normal fall camp talking points when there’s still a very strong chance that the season is already doomed. Fall camp is one small hurdle, all other students returning to campus and resuming social activities is probably an even bigger one. And that’s before we even get to figuring out how to safely play football games amid a global pandemic.
Certainly a part of me is still optimistic that we will be able to watch college football this fall. But I can’t decide if that optimism is reasonable, or if it’s just my heart refusing to accept the reality that it probably won’t happen. Let’s hope for the former, because fall Saturdays will be exceptionally tragic without it. But while our hope for a season may still be a 50/50 shot at best, be grateful that we still have a shot at all. There are a couple dozen schools in the Big Ten and Pac 12 that would kill to be starting football practices today, even if nothing beyond that is guaranteed.
Where do you put the chances of A&M playing all 10 SEC games in 2020?
This poll is closed
100% (I envy you)
0% (eat at Arby’s)