Elton Hayes

Elton Hayes covers Penn State for CNHI properties.

If you’re keeping count – and I’m sure you most certainly are – the 2020 college football season is scheduled to begin in fewer than 30 days. Nine games were slated to kick off on Aug. 29, with Oklahoma (vs. Missouri State) headlining that Saturday’s list of participants.

As of now, three of those games – New Mexico State at UCLA, Hawaii at Arizona and California at UNLV – have been canceled. A fourth – Notre Dame at Navy – has been postponed.

What began as nine games have now been whittled down to five as four of five Power Five conference have modified their teams’ schedules. The Big 12 remains the lone holdout. The ACC announced its members would play an 11-game schedule that allows for 10 conference games. The SEC shared its teams would play a 10-game, conference-only schedule.

The Big Ten on July 9 moved to a conference-only schedule for its teams, and the Pac-12 followed suit a day later.

Unsurprisingly, the situation surrounding the 2020 season remains just as fluid as college football programs’ handling of coronavirus outbreaks this summer on their campuses.

Recently, Penn State announced eight of the 466 student-athletes it tested were positive for the coronavirus.

On July 24, Michigan State for the second time this summer suspended its preseason workouts following positive COVID-19 test results for a staff member and football player. On July 25, Rutgers announced it, too, was halting preseason summer workouts after the school’s latest round of COVID-19 tests returned six positive results.

To date, five Big Ten football programs – including Rutgers and Michigan State – have halted summer workouts since their student-athletes were allowed to return to their respective campuses in June. Maryland, Ohio State and Indiana were the others.

Furthermore, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on July 20 signed an executive order that prohibits outdoor congregations of 500 or more people.

Not long after Murphy’s order, Rutgers announced it wouldn’t allow fans to attend games at SHI Stadium this fall.

Don’t be surprised to see other schools soon announce the same.

One of the lone bright spots during this pandemic is it’s allowed us to reconnect with those with whom we’re closest yet the daily grind has allowed lulls in conversation.

For the past four months, each Sunday, my family and I virtually visit through Zoom meetings. During one of our conversations, my aunt made a statement that has since stuck with me: “These are not normal times,” she said, “and it’s OK if we admit that and readjust our way of life.”

Not just our country, but our world is confronted by an invisible enemy unlike any we’ve seen before. More than 4.5 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and it’s responsible for more than 154,000 deaths.

Planning measures, safety precautions and the strict following of health guidelines should be applauded, and they most certainly assist in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. However, as we’ve seen with Major League Baseball, everything is fine until it’s not. To be fair, early numbers from the WNBA and the NBA are promising.

That said, athletes in those sports who are risking infection are professionals and are compensated as such. College student-athletes are but amateurs, and the NCAA loves to remind us of that at every opportunity.

Elton Hayes is a veteran sports writer who covers Penn State for CNHI LLC publications. Contact him at ehayes@cnhi.com or follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

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