ACC could play football season without all teams

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - While the college football season remains in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic, speculation about the eventual outcome covers the entire field. Will it start on time in September? Be delayed until October? November? How about January? Will there be a shortened season? Bowl games in May?


Reports have also surfaced that several of the Atlantic Coast Conference schools -- not Louisville -- have informed ACC officials that they may cancel their football schedule even if the league decides to play in one form or another.


UofL vice president for athletics Vince Tyra has heard all the speculation, and he is only relatively certain about one thing:


"The (ACC) has already talked about, if every school wasn't ready to go, the league would likely go without them," he said during a teleconference Wednesday. We have 15 football playing schools in our conference, with Notre Dame. I think everybody's got their head around all the different possibilities and made notes out there that if 12 or 14 are ready to go and one or two aren't, we'll go on and play."


ACC commissioner John Swofford told Brett McMurphy of The Stadium that, as Tyra noted, the league would probably play even without some of its members and he indicated that he supports that scenario.


"I suspect if the majority of schools can play, then they should play," Swofford said. "It's on our radar. We'll cross that bridge later. Hopefully, we won't be in that situation."


Syracuse athletics director John Wildhack said during a recent teleconference with the media that the ACC has had no conversations about canceling the season.


Wildhack is on a subcommittee the ACC put together to look at scenarios for the upcoming  season. Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson, Florida State coach Mike Norvell, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, athletic directors Dan Radakovich (Clemson), Boo Corrigan (NC State) and Blake James (Miami), and ACC senior associate commissioner for football Michael Strickland are also on the subcommittee.


"We want to play," Wildhack said. "We have not, as a conference, had any discussions in terms of not playing. We plan to play. What we don't know is when we're going to start and what form or what format we're going to start. Do you play with fans, do you not play with fans? So much is unknown, but the ADs and the conference office, we meet twice a week, and there's not been one second of conversation about not having a football season in some way, shape or form."


Of course, the ideal scenario is to start the season on time with all 14 ACC teams, plus Notre Dame, competing. But heading into the third month of a nationwide shutdown, there are still more questions than answers. When will governors open states, when will university presidents open campuses, when will it be safe to resume training, could there be games without fans, or would attendance just be limited for social distancing?


"You can see it's a lot of speculation," Tyra said. "I think in the end it's nice that a lot of us ADs think we have a big voice in this. But in the end, it's people that are a lot sharper than us in the medical field. Obviously, there are going to be some medical officials  that make those calls.


"All we can do is just prepare for dates and be prepared for when we can, one, bring athletes back on campus; and two, when they might say, 'Let's go.' It's fun to talk about hypotheticals. But in reality, that decision is further away than closer. I don't see it coming in a week or two. Probably not even the next 30 days. I think all we can do right now as a conference and in college sports is just prepare for a return to play, which we've been doing a lot of."


Tyra also noted that the NCAA is at the mercy of local and state governments and individual universities within conferences, who will make decisions based on the situation in their various locations.


"I think what conferences do, there's a lot of discretion at the conference and school level and the NCAA doesn't control states. States set their rules around what's going to happen in terms of what you can do returning to campus and opening facilities and things like that.


"We're watching what's going on in local and state government here. We'll have our kids back on campus as soon as we get the go-ahead and as soon as we think we're ready and have as much  precautions in place as we need. It won't be the NCAA who tells us."


NO ACC HOOPS IN NOVEMBER


It's difficult to get all 15 basketball coaches in the ACC to agree on virtually anything, but this is news that is sure to please all of them for a change.


According to a report from CBS Sports’s Jon Rothstein, the ACC will not tip off the upcoming season with league games as it did this past season. That’s a relief for the coaches, all of whom objected in varying degrees to starting the 2020 season (a) so early and (b) against an ACC opponent.


Louisville played its earliest season opener ever, starting on Nov. 5 with an 87-74 win at Miami. the Cards then didn't face another ACC foe until hosting Pittsburgh on Dec. 6.


Last year's early tipoff was due in part to create an additional attraction other than football for the new ACC Network. That isn't a factor anymore, but the pandemic is, and scheduling a league game so early could be problematic if dates have to be reshuffled.


Rothstein wrote that the conference still plans on having intra-ACC matchups in December. Before last season, the Cards' opening ACC games were: 2015--Jan. 4, at Wake Forest; 2016--Jan. 3, Wake Forest; 2017--Dec. 28, Virginia; 2018--Jan. 2, Pittsburgh; 2019--Jan. 6, Miami.

BLAGG  NAMED GOLF COACH



Louisville hired Ryan Blagg, the 2017 national assistant coach of the year at Baylor, as its new head golf coach.


Blagg was a member of the golf team at Arkansas, played professionally for six years and had coached at Baylor for eight seasons. He replaces Mark Crabtree, who resigned after leading the Cards to 11 regional and four NCAA Championship appearances.


Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.

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