Mike Jensen: College sports right now isn't a competition so much as a science fair

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks during Big 12 media days at AT&T; Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on July 15, 2019. - Lynda M. Gonzalez/Dallas Morning News/TNS

So the winner of Wednesday’s 2020 college football quote that would have made no sense in 2019 contest goes to Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, for reasonably suggesting how “if all your quarterbacks are living together and they get infected, it may be tough” to play a game.

That’s where we are. College sports right now isn’t a competition so much as a science fair.

Can the Big 12, Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conferences make it to an opening kickoff without shutting down? If yes … did the Big Ten and Pac-12 shut down too quickly? And who had Temple still trying to play football after Penn State was shut down?

If you have an opinion, as a league or an individual, you might be able to find a medical expert to back it up — although I’m still waiting to see the study that says heart issues for big linemen are not a concern. (Please email me, and copy the Big Ten, if studies show that CDC guidelines on such risks are not to be taken seriously.)

Liability issues are in play all over the landscape, as are testing issues. Penn was planning to bring students back to campus for hybrid learning but Tuesday suddenly scrapped that plan. (Sorry about that if you already bought your plane tickets from out of town.) Trust us when we say testing results issues were part of the discussions that slowed things down at Penn. (What caused those testing issues? The spike in cases around the country.)

Big Ten coaches want to come up with a football scenario for the spring? Can’t blame them. Would love to see it. And if teaching is done virtually, maybe it can work. Maybe hoop leagues can have their own little quarantine bubbles. It’s reasonable to suggest such work better start now on all that. A long way to go and a short time to get there.

If the medical issues can be wrestled into some semblance of submission, leagues will be getting creative. Wednesday, the New Jersey Athletic Conference, showing real creativity, announcing that men’s and basketball teams won’t compete until after January 1 (along with the other winter sports) and the NJAC hoop leagues will cut conference schedules from 18 regular-season games to nine. Why?

“Recent NCAA legislation allows student-athletes to retain a year of eligibility for potential future use,” Rowan explained in a statement, “if an abbreviated schedule this year is 50% or less of the maximum schedule.”

Good for the NJAC. Might not happen, but if it does, that’s a win-win for players. Play a little but don’t make it count. Since most scenarios lately across the NCAA have been lose-lose for athletes, that’s a single ray of actual sunshine. (Easier to do in Division III, since there are no scholarship limits, since there are no scholarships.)

You may have seen Villanova is back on campus and the basketball team has gathered together, masked and socially distanced. Another degree of relative normalcy. Take it and hope it lasts.

That said, no magical thinking, no thinking that a week without a positive test on one campus means much of anything on another.

Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner, explained that football teams in his league, Texas and Baylor and the rest, have committed to three COVID-19 tests per week. Anyone testing positive will have an EKG, blood tests and a cardiac MRI.

Coaches also will sign a form saying nobody on the field is positive for COVID.

The commissioner also talked about “hospital quality sanitation” in place at facilities.

Of course, until further notice, all plans get written in pencil.

“What we found out was golden 60 days ago is garbage today,” Bowlsby said.

Well put, Commissioner. That thought right there wins Wednesday’s contest for 2020 college football quote that makes the most sense in 2020.

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