Football teams in the American Athletic Conference, which includes Temple, will need to be tested 72 hours prior to each game for COVID-19, based on guidelines announced Thursday by commissioner Mike Aresco.
The testing protocols will apply throughout the regular and bowl seasons.
“Our overall operational protocols will be finalized shortly and may be revised as circumstances and new information warrant,” Aresco said in a statement. “In addition, we are finalizing our Olympic sports testing and operational protocols.
Was this announcement a subtle message that Aresco feels there will be football?
“Until the situation is such we feel we can’t start on time or play at all, we will continue to put one step ahead of another carefully and judiciously and move ahead,” Aresco said in a phone interview.
There are many AAC teams that are scheduled to play Power Five schools, including Temple at Miami, so Aresco wanted it known that his league’s standards will be as high as those in the higher-profile conferences.
“Our standards will be the same as theirs if not more stringent,” he said.
Among Football Bowl Subdivision schools, the Big Ten and Pac-12 will only play conference games this season — if there is a season.
The AAC has 11 football teams that are from nine states, so even conference games will entail quite a bit of travel. For instance, Temple’s road conference games are at Navy (Annapolis, Md.); Memphis (Tennessee); Tulane (New Orleans); and UCF (Orlando).
Temple is scheduled to open its season Sept. 5 at Miami of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC has not made a decision about playing nonconference games.
Temple has already lost one game. The Owls’ Sept. 19 home game against Rutgers was canceled when the Big Ten dropped nonconference games.
Aresco understands that all conferences are just buying time because of the fluidity of the situation surrounding COVID-19.
“We think we have two to two-and-a-half weeks to decide to start the season on time,” he said. “Any decision we make, we will do what the medical people say.”