University of Arkansas Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek told his bosses today that he thinks the Hogs can open the weight room and training table as soon as June 1st, and start practice as soon as mid-July.
But in the words of one legendary college football analyst — not so fast my friend.
Yurachek was in a virutal meeting of the Arkansas Board of Trustees when he went on record with the aggressive timeline.
“On the heels of the governor’s announcement to open health clubs across the state of Arkansas today and with the blessing of Chancellor [Joseph] Steinmetz, we are working on a plan to open our strength and conditioning rooms, as well as our training rooms on June 1 on our campus for voluntary workouts for our student-athletes who live in the area,” he said according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Yurachek stressing everything they’ve looked at from disinfecting the stadium, ensuring social distance with fans, having employees wear PPE. He added they have time to make these decisions with football season still several months out— Susan El Khoury (@SusanElKhoury) May 4, 2020
If Arkansas thinks they can play, by all means feel free plan as such. It might run afoul of the federal guidelines, and the testing protocols necessary to make this happen don’t seem close, but sure why not be optimistic.
Here’s the issue: The SEC is the most competitive college football league in America, and there’s no chance Greg Sankey and the other 13 schools are going to let one institution have on-campus practice time while the rest are left behind.
It’s not only a competitive advantage, it also shows that schools would be willing to go forward without a united front. States and institutions may have control over when campuses re-open, but they can’t control the decisions of other governments and universities.
Arkansas does have a low rate of infection, but their Golden Boot rival LSU and Louisiana certainly does not. And if one team is on campus practicing eating correctly and getting weight room sessions in, while another is forced to be closed due to the spread and management of the pandemic, that’s a competitive advantage that won’t be allowed to stand.
Right now the SEC has a suspension of all athletically-related activities until May 31st. And it seems very likely that window gets extended before one team is allowed on campus before their competition.