INDIANAPOLIS—Football coaches and athletic directors from 12 major universities held a conference call Tuesday to plan for a safe return to the gridiron amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Journalists were allowed to sit on the hourlong call, which included four minutes of actual talking.
“What if we surrounded the field with Plexiglass, like a hockey rink, and then…” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, his voice trailing off. After 10 seconds the group asked if his call had dropped.
“No, still here,” Swinney said without returning to his previous thought.
After three minutes of silence, Washington Athletic Director Jennifer Cohen said, “I have a three-point plan,” to eager gasps. “First, we put hand sanitizer on the ball between each play. You know, just enough to kill the virus but not so much that it’s slippery. Second, we have the players wear face shields under their helmets. And third, we socially distance by… with, uh…you know.”
The excitement in the call faded. Several minutes later, call moderator Ted Wilson said, “Coach Saban, did you say something?”
“Nope. That’s my dog,” the Alabama coach replied.
Another 11 minutes went by before Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy erupted.
“Dadgummit, we gotta get goin’ on this deal. We’re way behind as it is. I know Oklahoma and Texas are practicing in secret while we’re sittin’ here doin’ nothin’! I know those two got this anti-bacteria vacuum chamber they can practice in. It’s the same technology the Chinese used to make the virus.” Gundy said. “Now if we don’t come up with a plan, we’re not gonna have football and we all know how much that’ll damage the country! Every country that doesn’t play football devolves into socialism and ruin!”
Dr. Jennifer Lott of the Centers for Disease Control said, “Mr. Gundy, America is the only country that plays this type of football.”
“EXACTLY!” Gundy replied.
The group remained silent following that tense exchange until Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said, “bubble wrap?”
After a pause the moderator asked, “Uh, Mr. Smith is that a question?”
There was no reply.
After seven more minutes the moderator concluded the call.
“I feel like we made a lot of progress,” he said to much agreement.