Dooley: Difficult to see college football season working amid COVID-19

The Big Ten released its 10-game conference-only football schedule beginning as early as Labor Day weekend but cautioned there is no certainty games will be played. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Who would have thought this?

Who would have thought — even as sports shut down back in March — that we would be here?

Who would have thought that we would not be talking about the best players in college football, but instead about which ones might opt out of a season?

Remember all of those times that national media members who don’t understand college football would demand that a potential high draft pick clock out of his season to get ready for the pros? Now, it’s not because of injury, but because of a virus.

It doesn’t look good for a college football season today. It might look better tomorrow. It might look worse Friday. 

That’s what we’re dealing with — perhaps the most fluid sports story in the history of sports stories.

On Wednesday morning, UConn called it quits on 2020 and within minutes the Big Ten announced its schedule. And then more than a thousand of its players demanded third-party testing. And then the NCAA issued a list of rules that sports has to adhere to, including a hotline to report schools that are not doing the right thing. And it announced that if 50 percent of a sport in its division cancels the season, there will be no championships.

And this was all before noon.

I know I probably don’t have these in the right order, but they came fast and furious. 

It makes it difficult to be an optimist even when Power 5 schools around the country are announcing zero positive tests. Basically, a lot of schools are in a bubble of their own, but that bubble will break once students start flooding the campuses.

Connecticut dropping its season was hardly the sound of a shoe dropping. More like a sock. The program was hemorrhaging money and will hardly be missed. Rutgers announced it is going forward, but could easily drop out.

They are not the reason for pessimism.

The reason is that it is difficult to see it working.

It may get started with the Big Ten and ACC cranking up the first weekend in September. The biggest question is whether or not the SEC will ever get a chance to get a game in. 

And there is also this — how many teams will finish? How many teams will throw in the towel after a 1-5 start?

This is the time of year when you usually start to feel all tingly inside. You can smell football in the air. Now, it’s a lot more difficult with a mask on.

It’s August.

We don’t know the Florida schedule.

Who would have thought it?

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. The problem with our country is our culture of spendthrifts. We blow our entire paychecks on payday or even before getting paid mortgaging houses, financing cars, racking up college debt, and running up credit card bills. We are doing the exact same thing with regard to the virus. It is owed a huge debt. It says pay me now or pay me later but if we choose to pay later, it will be at an extraordinary predatory interest rates. Other countries with a different culture had the discipline and endured the pain to pay in full by shutting down for a couple months to control the virus and have since reopened. On the other hand, we have weak “recommendations” to mask up, and “suggested” guidelines for reopening different sectors, both of which were laughed at. When the transmission ramps up, we get a little stricter. The moment we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s back to high risk activities. We push the boundaries. We play with fire. The smart money says let’s pay now but that concept is not in our culture. As one of my favorite sports writers have said, “We don’t deserve football.”

  2. Not much on these kind of articles about the fans in the stands, booster money, season ticket money. College football without the fans, to me, is not college football. What is the plan there? Some season ticket holders have had their seats for 50 years, and now you’re gonna tell them they can only get two seats not four because of social distancing in the stands? I just don’t see it.

  3. We seem to have lost some of the traits that made our nation strong, such as a rugged individualism which took full responsibility for oneself and was not looking for someone to tell us what to do or what we needed. Those who want to see the game should attend. If a person is concerned with being “infected”, then they should stay home.

    • BS, the best and brightest moment of this nation was WWII when we all came together as one to defeat not one but two existential threats. “Individualism” is why we had a civil war and why we won’t have a college football season this year.

    • Great post ratmotor. With an R0 of 0.4 according to the CDC, we should be treating this like a normal flu, not running like girl scouts and panty waists. The current hospitalization rate is still 1/6 of what it was weeks ago, and turning down again. Anyone who wants college football can see the graphs and see we’re well past the peak, and the leftists are trying to damage the economy so they can win the election. Their behavior is riddled with contradictions and evasive, attacking arguments Socrates would decry as “fake debate.”

      • You seem like an intelligent person but you keep downplaying COVID comparing it to the flu with a few selective data points. I am skeptical but want to keep an open mind if you can convince me. I suspect this forum is a cut above in terms of education level so you are going to have to do a bit better than just throwing out a couple of numbers to prove your point. If you are going to make that type of claim, why don’t you compare ALL the pertinent data head-to-head, responsibly. For example, you claim CDC says the R0 for COVID is 0.4 which is a great choice for a data point. How does the flu R0 compare? By the way, I tried looking it up but couldn’t find those numbers so it would be great if you can link the source. You talk about hospitalization rates (or was it total hospitalizations) declining but do not mention that it’s a lagging indicator. It suspect it’s probably trending up now or will trend up with the recent surge. I would also mention that doctors have drastically improved their treatment of the illness and symptoms in just a few months so that may explain some things. How about comparing the total hospitalization per season. How does the hospitalization rates relative to the number infected compare so we can have an idea of the relative severity of the illness? How about comparing the fatality rates, total fatalities per season, total cases per season, Also take the availability of a vaccine and number of people who got vaccinated into consideration and how that affects the numbers. Anyways, you got the idea.

        Lastly, let’s take it the Forum by creating a thread there. I think the Admin made that suggestion last time.

        • All of your comments thus far have negatively criticized my evidence with false logic before you have even asked for clarity. The appearance of exaggerated immediate criticism, before asking to understand the full body of evidence I have gathered, is an indicator you are not an Unbiased investigator, you are a political actor pushing Exaggerations and falsehoods while trying to appear intellectual.

          Four instance, on February 27, on Twitter, the CDC said masks are worthless. What science discovery appeared since then to completely invert international medical knowledge, and why was there no profuse apology from the CDC for being wrong for the prior 50 years? Why no apology from the FDA for rejecting masks in 14 double blind tests?

          You already have the information to know the truth, sly. Stop being a political toady.

          • 1. You are the one who is trying to bring in politics. I think most of the stuff you say are very misleading and politically biased rather than based on facts and science.
            2. You have not a made a convincing case that Covid is harmless like the flu which you keep comparing.
            3. The CDC and government initially downplayed the masks because they didn’t want people to make a panic run on the N95 masks which was in short supply at the time. They wanted the first responders and providers to get them first. Fauci provided that insight during a congressional testimony. You do realize that even Trump and the Republican governors supports masks now right?

  4. The only way to end the spread is let it run like Sweden did, we’re doing the opposite of “best practices.”

    Moreover, the Sweden deaths per million is many times better than the rates found in New Jersey and New York: 1,763 and 1,669.”

    “An astute reader, however, will quickly notice that articles condemning Sweden’s “failure” rarely if ever mention these comparisons. Instead, anti-Sweden articles are careful to only mention countries with far lower deaths per million, usually Denmark and Norway. A nonspecific stock phrase is generally inserted which repeats that Sweden has: “a far higher mortality rate than its neighbours.”

    • 1. Many countries have controlled the virus and have since reopened. China did it with strict shutdowns. South Korea did it with robust testing. That doesn’t mean they don’t have flareups that return but they have a strategy to control it. Do we have a national strategy?
      2. I haven’t looked at the data but are you saying we shouldn’t compare the country of Sweden with the U.S. in favor comparing an entire country with selective cities?