NCAA approves football preseason model

The national office of the NCAA in Indianapolis is shown. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

College football now has an official timetable for the start of the season – whatever way, shape or form that takes.

The NCAA Division I Council officially approved Wednesday the long-expected ramp-up to the college season, accounting for the lack of spring practice among many schools because of COVID-19. Here’s the breakdown on the three windows (based on a football opener of Saturday, Sept. 5):

— July 13-23: Eight hours per week of weight training, conditioning and film study.

— July 24-Aug. 6: Workouts can now include walkthroughs and team and individual meetings.

— Aug. 7: Regular preseason practice can begin.

“Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country, we believe this model provides institutions and their student-athletes flexibility to prepare for the upcoming season,” said West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, who helped shape the proposal as the head of the Division I Oversight Committee.

UF coach Dan Mullen said the Gators are preparing for anything.

“We’ve written up our plans for that,” Mullen said Tuesday. “We feel pretty comfortable with what we’re doing getting that time. Then we’ll go to the next part. It’s a waste of energy and time to speculate on all the different things that can happen. What we have to do is be prepared to adjust to whatever does happen.
“As we get knowledge and as we get information and some solid facts, we’ll adjust accordingly. At this point I’m looking at it as once August 7 hits everything is back to normal for us because that’s the information we have right now.”

Despite all the meetings and planning by the NCAA, there’s no guarantee things will line up nicely given what’s happening with COVID-19 testing during voluntary workouts. More and more schools are navigating positive tests. UF has not reported any positive tests.

Others are hoping for the best on positive tests and fans in the stands despite a recent spike in the South COVID-19 cases.

“I leave a lot of that up to the medical staff,” Mullen said. “I don’t want to overstep my bounds on that, but I am proud of the responsibility our guys have had or what they’ve taken in trying to follow all the social distancing rules that we do, and how to learn. I think one great thing as a society right now, we’ve learned how to better protect ourselves and others in the environment that we’re in today, and so I’m proud of our guys for paying attention to that to do that.

“I was consulted, I would say, you know when you’re looking at that and the return to campus, I was involved but not majorly involved, more, again, on the informative idea and what are some thoughts that we can do with guys more than the decision-making side of things. All our doctors and administratively, they’ve done a great job of trying to lay out plans to find things and put us in the best position, and more of mine was consulting – ‘if we do this, what’s your thought on how we train, how we meet, how we practice, if we do those things’ – more than having me be on the decision end of those things.”