Kirk Herbstreit, NCAA reps talk football season's start, testing during pandemic


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Herbstreit says he has the same focus for his sons as he does for all involved with college football during the pandemic. (Photo: Matthew Oharnen / USATODAY)
Herbstreit says he has the same focus for his sons as he does for all involved with college football during the pandemic. (Photo: Matthew Oharnen / USATODAY)

The NCAA held a Q&A session with ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline and NCAA football oversight committee member and WVU president Shane Lyons this week.

Lyons and Hainline said they are targeting a six-week prep time before getting a college football season going, with four weeks being the minimum. If they cannot establish a season start day by mid-July, Lyons says it will likely be delayed, but he told Herbstreit that the hopes would be to finish around the fall semester and not push it into the spring, where Lyons added there are "logistical" issues.

Hainline says to play this fall they will need two elements: "exceptional surveillance and contact-tracing" and regular testing, which would likely involve tests the day of games for all players and on-field personnel involved.

Hainline said he could envision coaches and other personnel outside of the athletes wearing masks on the sidelines. Lyons says a September start date and possibly beyond could mean stands filled with 60,000 or more fans would not be likely. Herbstreit added that College GameDay and ESPN will follow any guidelines set down and that aspect of college football could look different as well.

Herbstreit was asked how he is handling the situation with two sons who play at Clemson. He said he just wants them to get into a regular routine and he has the same overall outlook for any college football player.

"I care about people. I guess I don't look at my kids any differently than I look at the players I cover," he said. "I want the best for all these guys. I look at them, in a weird way, as all my children. How could I look at my kids and treat them this way and make sure they're taken of, but these other kids, 'They're fine.' 'Get them out there and play.' I don't really have a problem at all with separating my two kids as a parent and it's very similar to how I view it as an analyst.

"I don't look at my livelihood at all when I'm evaluating this. I'm looking at strictly from, 'Can we do this?' 'Logistically, how can we do this?' 'Can we do it with fans?' Are the stadiums going to be empty? How do we get players back in the facilities? Are we going to ease them back 10 at a time? Will my kids be included in that at Clemson? I really look at it through the same lens because I care about these players."

Lyons has a son who plays for Akron and he stressed education for players during this pandemic.

"It's our responsibility to educate them that this is very serious," Lyons said. "And that when they return to campus, even if it's for voluntary workouts, what does that mean? Making sure that they're social-distancing. Making sure that they're doing what's necessary not to spread this. And then understanding that we have the mentality that we're athletes and if I get sick -- I'll just fight right through it. We gotta be able to say to them, 'If you feel sick at all, this is not the time to think about people thinking you're weak.'

"It's about educating them to say to get their temperature, do the test, as opposed to spreading to other people if they end up having the virus. It's a lot of education that we're going to have to do for our young men and young ladies if we open up our campuses."

Watch more of the session in the link below:

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