In a normal year — pick a year, other than 2020 — the two-sentence email that arrived Tuesday would have been so startling, it would have demanded many more sentences of explanation.
The American Athletic Conference announced today that Temple’s opening football game at Navy, previously scheduled for September 26, has been moved to October 10.
That was it, the whole announcement, other than a kickoff time (6 p.m.) and a television outlet (CBS Sports Network.)
If you’d been following along, you knew what was up. Temple is less than three weeks from that earlier planned Navy season opener and still hasn’t been allowed to conduct full regular practices, hamstrung by city public health guidelines.
How can the Eagles practice more normally? They test for COVID-19 every day so they are also in compliance with guidelines.
This isn’t a rant against public health guidelines. Just a realization that Temple and any other college trying to play football this fall is walking a tightrope. The season opener already fell off the wire, but there was a net below, an early open date for both American Athletic Conference programs.
A veteran college administrator, looking at the landscape, pointed out how the AAC “is doing everything possible to play — especially with so much inventory available for national exposure this fall.”
This administrator pointed out that everything impacts everything else. If any of the leagues still trying to play fold up, it will impact others.
"So many variables still out there that could cancel fall football,'' the administrator said.
But if Temple could play …
“So many advantages. Only a few major media markets are playing major college football in the fall.”
If you’re going to list variables that would stop play, start with the most important, the health risks of COVID-19. The idea that college players can recover easily isn’t a hill any college can safely stand on. Testing and quarantining are part of the landscape now. Temple already had six players opt out of playing this fall.
Let’s stop for a second to note that Temple head coach Rod Carey has been a voice of sanity in this. He has not whined about what is going on, just pointed out the very real obstacles for his team and the practice requirements needed to safely and effectively play a competitive game.
“The appetite for risk isn’t very high right now,” Temple’s coach told me in August, and why would that change now?
In a normal year — pick a year, other than 2020 — Temple would have a game under its belt already. The big early-season event was supposed to be the Sept. 5 matchup at Miami, featuring sort-of ex-Temple coach Manny Diaz.
None of that now. Only AAC games are left on the schedule. We’re getting deeper into September now, but the Owls opener remains off in the horizon, now a month away. The big 2020 event for Temple football would be a kickoff, any kickoff.