Well, another week of quarantine has come and gone. Still holding up alright? Getting stir crazy? Even with sports on hiatus for the foreseeable future, there has been quite a lot of Notre Dame chatter over the past couple weeks. ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, football coach Brian Kelly, and ND basketball coach Mike Brey have all spoken in the media. Most of the talk is speculation on when they believe sports will begin again, so let’s get a rundown on their thoughts:
Vice President Pence held a separate call with college football officials this past week. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was on the call...along with several conference commissioners. Here are a couple quotes...
From American Athletic Commissioner Mike Aresco...“We were able to talk about the differences between us and professional sports. We talked about how academics and college athletics were inseparable.”
From Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby... “(We) made the point we were concerned and wanted to get back to having kids attending college and opening up our colleges and universities. (And) that until that happened we weren’t going to be having any sports.”
And here’s Swarbrick quotes with Mike Tirico on NBC Sports Network that same day...
“The vice president was marvelous to initiate the call and have us join him to talk about college athletics,” Swarbrick said. “There were really two messages from him: One was to thank the commissioners for the really important decisions they made to suspend athletics, especially in the middle of the conference basketball tournaments and the role that played in a positive way in contributing to the containment of the virus.
“The other [message] was his interest in hearing us and our thoughts about what lies ahead for college athletics.”
“I don’t know how we reopen our campuses, put students back in dorms and in dining halls, and then say, we can’t be in a football stadium together,” Swarbrick said. “That doesn’t feel compatible to me. Beyond the fact, I think college football needs the marching band and the cheerleaders and the fans and everything. That’s essential to the experience.
“This is more about we have to be consistent in our approach. I’m not sure how you say we’re okay with the students engaging on the field but not fans in the stands. Now might therapy approaches to fans in the stands that are a little different, that helps ensure safety? Absolutely, but I can’t see playing empty stadiums.”
“It’s premature to take any option off the table: the season we move, the season we shorten, the season we delay the start of,” Swarbrick said. “All of that’s got to be under consideration. The starting point for this will be The scientific data that we're given and the medical data.
“Then I think the commissioners will take the lead on trying to decide based on that with their institutions. what’s the best path forward. Again, we have to do this as all of college athletics. Individual schools will make decisions about what they do, but to play college football in the fall, all of us have to come together in how we’re going to approach that.”
Kelly was a guest on Colin Cowherd a few days back, and here are several notable quotes from his spot on air:
Regarding how quickly the program could start back up with football related activities...
"A lot of it is really centered around, not just the game itself, but it's about how you bring the students back. You could conceivably bring back the professional ranks and kind of deal with the players. Maybe there's some lost revenue there on the players end that they have to agree to, and they could play without fans, and people would buy that product, certainly, and they could watch it on TV. It's harder to do it at the collegiate level without students, because one can't really exist without the other. So, this is really the comprehensive plan now where it has to be in lockstep. So many football programs have existed as their own model and those that have existed as their own business model are struggling right now. Those that have been intertwined with the university are going to get through this a lot quicker. So, it's really been more conversations about how do we interact in getting the students and the athletes back together in an integrated phase, so we can get the season going."
Kelly on pushing the start of the season to January 2021...
"I think we could make it work. I think we have to get through this. We can't have an overlapping semester, because then there's eligibility questions. I don't know that we can really handle that on the phone right now. So, as long as there's not an overlapping semester situation, and we can get through the semester and everybody can tie up flow from winter and spring from summer, I think we could do that. I think there's enough models out there that we can get this in demand. There may be some situations where, we heard the other day that they may not let anything happen in the city of Los Angeles. There may be some teams that have to play road games. If that's the case, to play and get your season in at different sites, there may have to be those kinds of alterations to get a season and we'll see what happens. Listen, it's too far away for me to even venture guesses right now. I know that everybody is trying to look at reasons to play."
Still time before decisions have to be made, and if I was a betting man, in order to avoid a rebound of the virus, I could see the season starting in January 2021. This would mean that online classes would take place in the fall of 2020 and students would not be back on campus until early 2021. For the football team, it would mean a two month training program while on campus for October and November, training camp in December, and the season starting middle of January. At this point, all options are likely on the table.
While football programs around the country discuss how/when the 2020 season will start, the financial loss that could occur will largely affect non-revenue generating sports. For example, the University of Cincinnati already cut it’s men’s soccer team in the wake of the pandemic. Irish basketball coach is well aware of the financial burden that now exists…
“I think you have to have an open mind to everything given the climate for your budget to help your athletic department, because we are all going to be in a crunch a little bit,” Brey said Wednesday in a press conference on Zoom. “We are still recruiting, but unless it’s a great fit, it wouldn’t be bad on the budget if we didn’t have to pay for another scholarship.”
“We don’t need to be panicking about stuff,” Brey said. “Like I tell our guys, have a routine every day. Get your body moving. There’s no excuse to not be really in shape during this time. Come on. We can eat better. We have better control. We can exercise.
“We’re going to be back. We’re built for it. And when we come back, it’s going to be fun.
“Basketball is nimble. We don’t have a lot of equipment,” Brey said. “We need a ball and a couple hoops. We can be balling a little bit. Football, as we know, is a whole other animal.
“Basketball guys are kind of in shape year-round. We go on foreign tours in the summers and we play three games. We scrimmage.”
Also of note, the NFL draft is next week and several Notre Dame players will likely get drafted. In an unprecedented move, the NFL draft will be virtual this year due to the pandemic. Hopefully all of you bought stock in Zoom, because that’ll be the platform used by most NFL organizations as they discuss their draft picks. Here is the most up to date projections on Irish players:
- Cole Kmet (TE) - Late 1st RD/Early 2nd RD
- Julian Okwara (DE) - 2nd RD
- Chase Claypool (WR) - Late 2nd RD/Early 3rd RD
- Troy Pride, Jr. (DB) - 4th RD
- Jalen Elliott (S) - 5th RD
- Alohi Gilman (S) - 5th RD
- Tony Jones, Jr. (RB) - 7th RD
You can watch or stream the draft on NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, and ESPN Deportes...Round 1 kicks off April 23rd at 8p.
In the meantime, be safe, wash your hands, and STAY SHARP!