On August 5, Division II and Division III canceled all six of their fall championships because of the coronavirus pandemic which affects football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, women’s volleyball, and men’s water polo in both divisions.
The Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Mountain West Conference became the first FBS leagues to postpone the fall season with the possibility of playing in the spring.
The University of Connecticut canceled their fall football season and with the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10 and the SEC) all meeting to discuss the future of fall or spring football, the question is how would a cancellation or move to the spring for college football affect high school football?
Statewide high school coaches differ in opinion but they all want to start and finish a football season and not have it lost like what happened to spring sports last year.
”Personally, I think the two levels of football are separate and have different purposes. High school football is part of the educational process and should continue as scheduled as long as schools are in session, ” McCallie coach Ralph Potter said.
TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress agrees with Potter.
”We are aware of what they are doing but it will not have an effect on what we do. We will continue to work with the Governor’s team, CDC, our state and national Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, Health Department, and infectious disease specialist in order to make decisions going forward, ” Childress said.
The pandemic has high school coaches scrambling for games this morning as TNHighSchoolFootball.com reported that Boyd Buchanan canceled their four non-region games and will only play their six-game Division II-AA East games in the regular season.
Another DII-AA East school Chattanooga Christian is only playing seven regular-season games (Baylor the only non-region game) and their six-game Division II-AA East games in the regular season.
”It’s the only scenario for us right now but yes, the most we could play regular season is seven games. I pray we can get them all in,” Chattanooga Christian coach Mark Mariakis said
Other high school coaches are trying to stay positive and hopeful that a season can get played but with so much unknown it’s hard to see it sometimes.
”I get worried every time I hear of college football canceling or moving the season. They have the means to have more control and to test and high school football does not,” Fulton coach Rob Black said.
Baylor head coach Phil Massey has a similar sentiment.
”My hope is that we play in the fall. A big hurdle that college has that we don’t is traveling from state to state. The chances for exposure seems much higher in college with air travel and being on campuses with much larger population than a typical high school. The negative for high schoolers is the fact that they do not have a “do over” year where colleges can extend another year of eligibility or take a redshirt year. Tough call but my thoughts are that any cancellations in college will unfortunately have a ripple effect to High School Football, ” Massey said.
Several high school football programs statewide have been shut down because of positive COVID-19 cases and are quarantining now.
”I think we will follow the lead of the colleges very soon. We are currently shut down for two weeks for positive cases. The cases seem to be from a parents’ workplace and kids staying the night together. We can’t control the spread and are fighting a losing battle. I have friends all over college football and they feel the shut down is soon. They are very concerned about salaries being drastically cut or eliminated completely, ” Dresden coach Wes Johnson said.
If the college does get canceled or moved to the spring does that put pressure on the TSSAA and other state associations to react?
”I think if college football cancels or moves their season to the spring, it will force the states to look at it and then make their own decisions on when the season will be played, ” Notre Dame coach Charles Fant said.
If college moved to the spring would high school football in Tennessee follow suit? Coaches are divided.
”I do not think our season will move to spring, even if not played in fall, ” Black said.
Huntingdon coach Eric Swenson liked the idea of football in the spring.
”I would personally hope for a move to the spring. I was in favor of that the entire time. Seems to me it’s your only chance at a semi normal season. By then, there would be a vaccine and that’s all it would take for normalcy in a lot of minds, ” Swenson said.
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