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Mark Stoops unsure if playing college football without fans is a “viable option”

Like the rest of the nation, Mark Stoops is unsure if and when college football will return. Kentucky’s head football coach is preparing as though the season will start as planned Sept. 5, but the coronavirus may have other plans.

To get football back to the gridiron on schedule, a variety of proposals have been made by talking heads. Delaying the season and playing games without fans are the two most prominent alternatives. It may work for the NFL but Stoops does not see a world where college football is played in an empty stadium.

“I think there are definitely some different challenges for us. I think the first thing that comes to mind is there’s going to be a lot of critics out there. The optics of it, to say you’re going to have college players out there that are allowed to play and line up six inches apart from each other and breath on each other, sweat on each other, get in big piles and do all that, but you’re not allowed to have fans in the stadium? I mean, that’s going to be the first thing you hear, right?” Stoops told reporters on a Monday conference call.

“Other people are going to make those decisions but I’m not sure that’s a viable option. The other thing compared to the NFL is financially. I think it’s very important to have fans in the stands. Universities are counting on that. We need people in the stands. Before this whole situation happened you heard me talking about it, encouraging our fanbase to pick it and pick up season tickets, get in there because we need them. It makes a difference to us having them in there, both financially and for their support.”

Of course, there are many things to consider when leaders are making these decisions. For Stoops, player safety is the top priority. Teams must have an appropriate amount of time to get players’ bodies ready for the grueling SEC schedule. Leagues will likely allocate extra practice or instructional time before the season debuts.

When will we get to see the Kentucky Football team back in action?  “I really don’t know and that’s just the truth,” said Stoops.

“Obviously I want to be there. Our staff and our players want to be there and we want the fans to be able to attend. It’s of my opinion we should play football with fans in attendance. I’m going to do the things I’ve been told and that’s go about my business and do the best we can to prepare our team to be able to play September 5th. That’s what we’re doing. Until somebody tells me otherwise that’s the way I’m going to go about my business is getting my team ready to play.

“If it does get pushed back, then we’ll deal with it. We’ll deal with it the best we can. But it’s real important for us to be out there. It’s important for our state and our community and it’s important for our fans to be there. I know probably everybody’s going a little bit stir crazy. Everybody’s starving for some live sports and we want to provide that. We want to be out there and provide an outlet for people to be able to escape some of this, but obviously we have to do it in a safe manner.”

He added, “I want to be out there and I want to be out there with fans in attendance because I believe they make a difference. We feel that energy, it’s a part of our sport and that’s the way I want to see it.”

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

9 Comments for Mark Stoops unsure if playing college football without fans is a “viable option”

  1. bigblue98
    12:52 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

    Agree with Matt and guys on radio show. There is no way there will be fans in the stands. There aren’t and won’t be adequate tests for 60,000 fans at a football game. Can you imagine what will occur if for example 10 fans go to the game, spread the virus, and then the infected go back to their home county. They will then spread to all they encounter on a weekly basis, as most don’t show any symptoms for several days. People at your work, out at restaurants, out at the grocery, at church, etc. Also, potential lawsuits that universities may see. People may not win the suit, but the mere fact of bringing the charge has associated costs. Maybe hope for college football in January if this doesn’t come back in a second wave. Not what people want to hear, nor me as a college football fan, but it’s the truth.

  2. Belenos
    12:55 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

    …I mean, that’s going to be the first thing you here, right?”


  3. secrick
    1:25 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

    Play football, Sept. . Lets get busy Living again.

    • Han
      1:45 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

      People said that nice and early during the Spanish Flu, too.

      Here’s a thought: They’re still not doing sports in the parts of the world hit by this first, and some of those places handled it a lot better than we have, like South Korea. China went like full military lockdown (more strict than anywhere in the US) and we all know their claims of low numbers are bull. And they’re not reopening stuff. Probably also shooting people who whine about it on social media.

  4. rickat
    1:52 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

    How many fans are going to games in Wisconsin, Iowa or even Missouri in January or February. UK can’t even count on tolerable weather that time of year.

  5. big cat
    2:40 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

    If you listen to the MSM then we’ll NEVER get back to normal again….you know, no church, no sports, no eating in restaurants, no haircuts, and no public school.

    Fear tactics are getting old and they are losing traction folks. It’s time to get back to business….and even back to sports. Let’s get back to church….fearing God instead of fearing COVID-19. Let’s trust what His word tells us instead of listening to all of the lies on the daily news.

    • bigblue98
      3:11 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

      God doesn’t protect from stupidity that people do. If so, god would be protecting these morons that are ingesting chemicals because trump said they might be beneficial. Fear tactics are getting about as old as conspiracy theorists. I’m going to trust that Trump’s team in Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci know what they’re talking about as this is their field and they are experts. Distancing oneself while going to smaller venues appears that it should be ok in the near future. However, going to large venues with anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people such as a football game when there is no vaccine is a different story entirely. How in the world could the state do contact tracing if 100 people from a football game got the virus? They might as well just quarantine the entire state at that point, because everyone is in close proximity at a game with everyone else.

  6. Racerr11
    6:52 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

    I agree with coach, there will be football with fans this year at some point, only way . There is no reason to not be able to by Sept, Oct none what so ever. This is real but something funny when you can go to stores but no go vote in person. And making the decision now about voting is fishy also. No excuse , we should vote normal

  7. Wild Turkey 101
    9:52 pm April 27, 2020 Permalink

    I wont watch any sport without fans in the stands. How dumb.