Satterfield still sees reason for concern about football season

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- As Louisville's football programs continues to welcome back players as part of its plan to recover from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, little if anything has gone wrong.

Players appear to be adhering to the safety protocol. There have been no disruptions as far as we know due to positive tests. Players reported in better condition than expected after nearly three months at home, away from the regimen and discipline provided by their coaches when they're on campus.

Approximately 74 players, including all starters and backups, are taking part in voluntary weightlifting and running drills, with the remainder of the team due to report in phase 3 later this month. Louisville was the first ACC school, on June 8, to start transitioning student-athletes back to campus.

Listen to coach Scott Satterfield's enthusiastic assessment of preparations for the 2020 season opener, ostensibly to be begin less than three months from now:

"Everything's going great so far. Guys have come back in really good shape. They've done some great work on their own back at their homes and they've actually exceeded where we thought they would be. They've come in with great attitudes.

"All our coaches and players have done a great job with everything we've put in place, all the precautions for these guys to come in here and be able to train in a safe manner. Everything so far is going smooth and we'll keep our fingers crossed with that. We all know how delicate a situation we're in right now with all of this and we're trying to do our part to do things right. We're excited where we are right now."

But as Satterfield hinted, it's a tenuous comfort level, given the uncertainty of how COVID-19 will behave the rest of the summer. Today's excitement could turn into tomorrow's disappointment. The smooth progress could turn into pothole-filled setbacks.

To put it another way, despite his upbeat attitude during a 30-minute teleconference with media members Wednesday afternoon, he has grave concerns about whether UofL will actually kick off against NC State on Sept. 3 in Cardinal Stadium. And if there is even going to be a college football season at all.

"Absolutely there's concern," Satterfield said. "It's really concerning, the reason being that nobody really knows anything. Everybody's got a little bit of information, enough to be dangerous probably, but nobody truly knows anything.

"We have policies and procedures that everybody has recommended, and we're trying to do our part but every college has to do their part. In order for this to work is every college in the country has to do their part. The crazy thing to me is, depending on which state you're in, it's all kind of different, right? The universities can be different. Just look in the ACC. We're back. Clemson's back. There are some other schools that are back. But there's also five or six schools that are not back right now.

"So it's all sort of different and crazy, so absolutely it's concerning. Are we going to be able to play all our games and all that? Plus, it's two or three months from now. We don't know what the numbers are going to look like a month from now, or two months. We're all moving forward, and we've all got plans and great ideas about what we can do to try to make this happen, but at the end of the day we still don't know.

"We're going to plan like we're playing every single game and start the season on time, and all those things, but we really, truly don't know, and we're taking it one day at a time. We all obviously hope we're going to play and our kids and our fans hope we play, but we'll see how it all works out. Everybody has to do their part and really take it serious."

The most recent development, in the form of an announcement from ESPN Wednesday, doesn't provide grounds for optimism. ESPN said that Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland won’t return to Monday Night Football and the network didn't name their replacements, which is where the possible implications for college football come in.

Michael McCarthy of FrontOfficeSports.com reports that ESPN is biding its time because it plans to shift Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit into the NFL booth if the college football season is canceled or postponed.

This could suggest that ESPN knows something that the rest of us don’t. From all indications, college football plans to proceed as scheduled, at a minimum with the biggest schools in the biggest conferences.

However, with eight Alabama players testing positive recently and Houston of the American Athletic Association shutting down voluntary workouts after six players tested positive, there’s a chance that the effort to play will collapse.

Asked Wednesday if any player or staff member at UofL had tested positive for the virus, Satterfield declined to answer.

"Well, I think right now we're not gonna comment on any positive or negative," he said. "I'll just say everything is going great so far."

As we all know, though, that could be temporary. Stay tuned.


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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