OU football: Why the Sooners aren't locking onto any one plan for 2020 season — and why that's a good thing
Joe Castiglione doesn’t have a plan for restarting college football — he has many of them.
Truth is, college football is flush with ideas for getting the sport going again. The coronavirus pandemic has shut down the entire sports world, but on campuses where football is the financial driver, everyone is especially mindful of its future.
As a result, there are all sorts of timelines for staffers to return to offices and players to return to campus, training to resume and games to begin.
But during a conference call with reporters Thursday, Castiglione made it clear he didn’t think there was any way to pick a single option right now. The OU athletic director said too many variables are still unknown about the future of this pandemic.
“The target is always moving,” Castliglione said. “That’s the challenge of this.”
Are we a quarter of the way through this?
Is this as bad as it gets?
Or nowhere close?
We just don’t know.
That’s why Joe C. isn’t locking OU into any particular plan. While some have indicated certain things must happen by certain times — the Texas A&M chancellor said the other day, for example, the season would have to start by October to play a full schedule — Castiglione isn’t issuing any edicts. No must-start-by dates. No drop-dead scenarios.
“I don’t want to start down a path of trying to throw one model out there over the other,” he said.
First and foremost, players have to be back on campus. When that happens remains anyone’s guess. But for Castiglione, the health and safety of athletes is a focus.
“That will be the first order of priority,” he said. “Then, we’ll figure it out from there.”
Asked if football could be played if the situation was still too dangerous to allow students back on campus, if the general student population was still learning remotely, Castiglione didn’t rule it out entirely. He said it would depend on being able to test players for the disease, then being able to control their environment and exposure.
“Who knows if we’re going to have limitations on how many we can assemble at one time?” Castiglione said. “And then how often would we be in the position to have to test them?
“So I think a lot of that will have to be answered way before we get to any experimental or hypothetical situation that we could talk about.”
If this makes you nervous about not having a college football season, it shouldn’t. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of questions without answers right now, but listening to Castiglione, I actually felt heartened about the situation. He reminded me there are lots of smart people considering lots of options and devising lots of plans.
What’s more, they are collaborating.
“Whatever we decide will be done collectively through our conferences working together,“ Castiglione said, “and obviously, those are the types of conversations I’m having not just with our ADs in our own conference but with ADs in other conferences.”
Options include everything from a full season starting on time to games extending into the spring. And even with all those plans, Joe C. said there could be adaptions to the adaptations.
“I don’t ever want this to be a conversation where we’re going to let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good,’” he said. “We may not have a perfect solution. It might be fraught with any variety of imperfections.”
An imperfect college football season sounds way better than none at all.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.