This is an exceedingly tenuous timeline.
But here goes. On May 4, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee introduced a four-phase plan that officials will adhere to as society reopens in the state. Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks to allow officials time to evaluate whether it’s safe to advance to the next level.
The fourth and final phase — which includes the resumption of gatherings of more than 50 people and large sporting events — could commence on July 13 at the earliest, according to current data trends.
Which begs the question: would that allow enough time for a college football team — say, the Washington Huskies or Utah Utes — to prepare for a season scheduled to start on Sept. 5?
Or, put another way: how much practice time is enough to condition, teach and coach a group of college students who were denied spring practice and extended summer workouts? To ensure they’re physically prepared for the rigors of a football season?
“We’ve talked as coaches in the conference, and I think the sentiment is pretty much that six weeks would be the minimum. I think that’s something that we could live with,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said in the second of four daily Pac-12 media webinars on Tuesday. “If we’re presented with less than that, then we’ve got to adjust accordingly. But when you look at it and discount spring ball, take that out of the equation, the typical lead-in is eight weeks of training in the summer and four weeks of camp before you play. So you have 12 weeks there.
“So if we can get half that, I think that would be great if we can get that done. That seems to be the consensus among the rest of the coaches as well, is a six-week lead-in would be adequate.”
For his part, first-year Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell said that “I think it’s an eight-week process. Given the status that we’re in, I’d like to have a month of training and conditioning to get them in shape and then a month of training camp, and then play the games when it comes down to it. I don’t think we’re going to get anything close to that. I know that it’s going to be a little bit faster process.
“But I think given the circumstances of this season and what we’re dealing with, I think all of us coaches feel whatever time they give us, we’ll be appreciative of it and we’ll just make the most of it.”
As for Washington, July 13 falls roughly eight weeks shy of the Huskies’ season opener on Sept. 5 against Michigan.
Given that timeline — which is closer to a best-case scenario than a likelihood, considering Whittingham’s take that “the odds are probably against” playing the scheduled season in front of fans — UW head coach Jimmy Lake sounded confident his Huskies could make it work.
“We would all want more time,” Lake said on Tuesday. “Eight weeks would be great, and anything more than that would be obviously going in a positive direction. But six weeks would be a minimum. Get these guys two weeks of just getting in condition, for one, and then start implementing our schemes and going through meetings, so on and so forth. So I think six weeks, as has been agreed upon, would be at a minimum the best for our guys.”
Lake added that, with individual states setting separate timelines on when and how to reopen, the NCAA should set a nationwide start date for when programs can begin practices to maintain a competitive balance among conferences and teams.
“I’m of the opinion that it would be great if the NCAA made a blanket rule for the whole nation of when we would start,” Lake said. “I understand that some states may be less hit by this than most, and I’m sure there’s going to be some different opinions after me. But in my opinion I believe the NCAA should step in and say, ‘Here’s the date where everybody can start.’ Because obviously we have a non-conference game (against Michigan) to start off. If they’re able to practice two months before we were able to practice, that’s a disadvantage.
“So that’s what I would be for, and we would be all on an even playing field.”
On the same subject, Whittingham and Dorrell — the other participants on Tuesday’s call — agreed that the NCAA should set an established date for practices to begin, but added that when individual states reopen players in said states should be allowed to work out with coach supervision in team facilities.
“Everything’s in the best interest of the players, in my opinion,” Whittingham said. “There’s imbalances and inequities all across the board in the NCAA — facility-wise, recruiting bases. Nothing’s really equal, when you really look at it. So I would hate to see athletes just sitting around when they could be training and getting ready for the season just because other places aren’t quite yet to that point.
“Now, the other side of that is that the (practice) lead-in time to the season needs to be the same. If you get six weeks, seven weeks, whatever, I think that needs to be mandated. But I just don’t like to see athletes that would have the opportunity and the clearance and the go-ahead (to work out and prepare in team facilities) have to sit around and wait. We can debate all day long how much inequity there is in college football. That’s just my opinion.”
To this point, there are plenty of opinions and possible timelines, but few established plans.