In the Southeastern Conference, football is the culture, the community and the passion. At Mississippi State University, football unites students, alumni and fans across the nation. While one's education is important, many students choose to attend universities in the Southeastern Conference so they can be a part of their unique football atmospheres. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. and the world, students are wondering what the next steps in sports will look like. Today, the million dollar questions are: "What will the 2020 football season look like this fall?" or "Will it even happen?".
On May 13, MSU released an article regarding plans to re-open the campus to students this fall.
"The MSU task force will produce guidelines to assist MSU across all campuses in transitioning back to more traditional campus activities. These will include ... considering innovative and best alternative practices in campus life, business functions, athletics, Extension and other public outreach," the article stated.
While there is no guaranteed answer regarding what will happen to the football season this fall, the "innovative and best practices" in football this fall is something worth investigating and speculating, based on what other universities and sports programs are doing.
According to an article by Kevin Graeler with The Examiner, the University of Missouri is looking into limiting the number of fans allowed in their stadium during each game. Jeff Sterk, the Mizzou athletic director, said fans should also anticipate being required to appropriately social distance during games, and the university is looking into ways to implement staying six feet apart.
In the NCAA Social Series podcast, Shane Lyons, Dr. Brian Hainline, Andy Katz and Kirk Herbstreit discussed the difficulties in logistics for football games this fall such as concession stand lines, gate entrances, attendance and personal protective equipment.
"I don't think you're gonna have the 60 to 100,000 fans that we once had last year," Shane Lyons, an athletic director at West Virginia University, said when asked about fans attending games this fall.
Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA chief medical officer, said coaching staff might be wearing personal protective equipment.
"I certainly can see the coaches being more distant or wearing face masks or making certain that they're protected in certain ways," Hainline said.
On Sirius XM's show "Radio Andy," Joe Buck, a Fox Sports announcer, said he does not think that NFL fans will be lucky enough to even attend games.
"There is probably going to be a season in doing games with no fans which will be difficult. I think Fox and these networks have to put crowd noise under us to make it as normal a viewing season at home," Buck said.
When asked if he thought networks would actually put crowd noise under games, Buck said he knew they would do it.
"On top of that, ... they're looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands so when you see a wide shot it looks like the stadium is jam packed, and, in fact, it'll be empty," Buck said.
While there are many uncertainties in what the upcoming football season will look like, universities and sports programs across the nation are exploring all options to find ways to still provide fans with their beloved fall football.