Though it would still be July until the clock flipped over, there was a gray October sky.
Though humid and far from crisp, there was the hue of a gray Grantland Rice pigskin sort of day.
The Good Book of college football — Phil Steele’s Yearbook — arrived in the mail.
The ACC had just announced a ten plus Notre Dame conference slate plus one.
Expert Stew Mandel optimistically projected my beloved Cardinals to go 8-2 in the conference.
The SEC announced a league only schedule for the autumn.*
*So much for feathers vs. fur this coming fall of 2020.
Louisville AD Vince Tyra expressed some optimism, cautious and measured as it was, that there might actually be college football within its normal annual space time continuum.
I could almost — almost — smell bratwurst grilling in the air.
* * * * *
Then I read what might be a more prescient harbinger of our current reality.
Harvey Updyke has passed away.
Updyke was the paradigm of a diehard college football fanatic.
He’s the former Texas state trooper, owner of 70+ Crimson Tide ballcaps, genuflector at the houndstooth altar, who poisoned the trees of his hated rival’s hallowed Toomer’s Corner. Then bragged about it on sports talk radio.
For which felonious transgression, he pled guilty in 2013, served a bit of time in the hoosegow, and repaid $6900 of the court-ordered $800,000 restitution, while living in exile in the Land of the Bayou Bengals.
Will college football in 2020 meet the same fate as Harvey Updyke?
* * * * *
Having settled back into reality after romanticizing about the imminent possibility of pigskin, a daydream based solely on the threatening cloud cover, I tried to be realistic.
I was hoping to actually provide some odds here about the chances of various scenarios. A +/- if you will of the number of days until the Cards and Cats and Huskers and Boilermakers and Buckeyes and Bayou Bengals and Updyke’s beloved Crimson Tide take to the gridiron.
Football in September?
Football in October?
Football in the spring?
No football until autumn 2021?
Since I know absolutely very little about how odds are set, and what +500 and -300 mean, I called Mr. Bunny, a wagerer of some savvy for a quick primer.
His tutorial notwithstanding, I remain clueless about such methods to the point that you’ll see no numerical predictions here.
* * * * *
I hope for it.
I pray for it.
I long for it, not only for the joy, but more so for the sense of some normalcy it might instigate.
I. Just. Don’t. See. It. Happening. In. 2020.
Seeing how European soccer leagues have made their games possible in home stadiums should serve as a punch in the solar plexus to every MLB player not following the rules, and to every American not willing to follow a couple of very simple bits of advice to stem the pandemic.
What can we expect of college students, when there’s but a faint hint of cultural sacrifice, such as our country put on display during WWII?
We’re wallowing in a heap o’ heap, and, while I’d love to be more optimistic, I can’t help but believe it’s going to be awhile before we crawl our way out.
Peerless Prognostication: Pandemic 49, Pigskin 10.
— c d kaplan