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College Football with COVID-19

CHATTANOOGA, TN ( Throughout the country college football schedules are looking unique from years past due to COVID-19. 

In August, almost every conference decided to cancel their football seasons. The Southeast Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference were the only conferences that opted to play at the start of the season. They then had to change their schedules because they would be playing conference only games. 

The changes are different from within each conference and continue to change throughout the season

Not only is the season different for the players and coaches, but also for the fans.  

The University of Tennessee is limiting the number of fans inside Neyland Stadium. Neyland Stadium is at 25 percent capacity during football games. Tailgating is limited to family groups or fans that will be sitting together during the game. 

At Vanderbilt University, only students are allowed into the game.  Friends and family of players must watch on TV.

The Football Bowl Subdivision includes the most competitive Division I conferences. The Power 5 conferences: Southerneastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Pac-12, and Big Ten, are now all playing conference games this fall. 

The other Division I, second level football program is called Football Championship Subdivision. There are teams that are playing a couple of games this season outside of their conference, such as Chattanooga Mocs and they have postponed their season to the spring.

Victor Ulmo, the starting kicker at Chattanooga, expresses that this season has been one of the books. 

Ulmo says, “My senior season is not at all what I have imagined it to be. We have practice, weights, meetings, and weekly study hall sessions just for the one game this fall.”

Chattanooga played Western Kentucky University on October 24th and lost 13-10. Their spring season will be conference only starting February 20th against Virginia Military Institute. 

Luke Knox, an outside linebacker for The University of Mississippi, is another football player affected by COVID-19. 

Knox says, “It has been strange all the way around, from the multiple COVID-19 tests each week to my teammates opting out because of their health. It has just been weird and nothing that I could have ever imagined.” 

Ole Miss is currently 2-4 this season. Head Coach, Lane Kiffin, is frustrated with the policy that those in close contact who have tested negative have to quarantine longer than those who have the virus. 

SEC players and coaches are being tested three times a week. If there are too many players that test positive, the Saturday game is canceled. There have been 34 games affected by COVID-19 this season.  Seven have been canceled and 27 postponed. 

To play a game during the SEC’s revised schedule, a team must have 53 scholarship players available and the following minimum number of scholarship players available at these positions: seven offensive linemen, including one center, one quarterback and four defensive linemen.

Jacob Webster, a first year football coach at University of Missouri, thinks that this is a crazy time to jump in as a coach. 

Webster says, “It’s definitely been a strange and stressful season. We are doing our best to keep the players safe so that we can continue to play each week. We also have to be flexible as players that have COVID or have been exposed to COVID have to quarantine.”

University of Missouri is 2-3 this season with a new head coach, Eliah Drinkwitz. Mizzou is hoping to make it to a bowl game, as they are not punished anymore by the NCAA due to an academic fraud investigation.

This story will continue to change throughout the season. 

If you want to learn more about college football during COVID-19 watch this video.

About Halli Henniger

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