As the remainder of winter sports, along with the majority of spring and summer competition on all levels being either postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops remains “hopeful” that his sport won’t be next on the list.
In an appearance on Kentucky Sports Radio this morning, Stoops said that while he’s not one to make predictions and wants to leave it up to the experts, he’s still optimistic a football season will be played this year.
“I’m hopeful about that. I’m just hopeful on it,” he said. “Again, you have to sit back and think about it, you know? If you’re the governor or these people making decisions for their state, do you want to pack in 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 thousand people in a stadium in the fall? And have everything wide open? That is a lot to think about. For the healthcare professionals, the experts, they’ll need to see where it’s at. I think we all need to stay away from making those predictions. I’m staying hopeful we’ll be back.”
The reasoning? Football is needed to help support other sports on campus in athletic departments across the country. Things might be strange for a while when the dust settles, but Stoops is hopeful they’ll find a way to make a season work due to the revenue football brings in and how it helps keep other sports afloat.
“We need to understand, pre-coronavirus, I don’t know if things are going to be absolutely normal like they were for a while,” he said. “But I do think football needs to be played, a lot of people are counting on it. Universities, athletic departments, I can’t even imagine what things would look like if we do not play a football season because of how many sports it supports. That’s why we’re hopeful a football season is played in some way, shape, or form. What that looks like? I don’t know.”
Could that include a set number of games or an entire season played without fans in the stands?
“I think that’s a possibility, I really do,” Stoops said. “I think that would be very strange. Basketball talked about doing it that way at the end of their season [before postseason play was canceled], and if that’s what we do, that’ll be very, very strange. But I think it is a possibility.”
Again, Stoops stressed that decisions like these are “above [his] pay-grade,” but that he’d be in support of a fan-less environment if it meant games are still played.
After all, fans will still be “glued to the TV” at home, thus allowing for media revenue.
“I try to stay in my lane, I try not to make bold predictions. I try to let healthcare professionals make the calls, let Mitch [Barnhart], let President [Eli Capilouto], people like that, let them make good decisions,” Stoops sad. “But if we are playing games with no fans, there are a heck of a lot of fans that’ll be glued to the TV watching those games, won’t they?”