With rumors swirling that the Big Ten and Pac-12 could join the Mid-American Conference and Mountain West and postpone football seasons and other fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban told ESPN's Chris Low that he believes Alabama players are safer within the football program than at home:
"I want to play, but I want to play for the players' sake, the value they can create for themselves.
"I know I'll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don't care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July. It's a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can't get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they're in a bar or just hanging out."
"It's going to be a challenge when the other students get on campus, and I get that. But we really don't know what that entails until it happens. It's a big reason we pushed the season back [in the SEC], to assess that, which is the prudent way to do it."
In late July, the SEC shifted to a 10-game conference-only football schedule that is tentatively scheduled to begin Sept. 26. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey admitted via Twitter on Monday that he doesn't know if conference members will be able to play this fall.
Saban added that schools should reconsider welcoming students to campuses if conducting seasons during the uncontrolled virus outbreak is deemed too unsafe:
"We also test anybody that has symptoms and have an open testing site where they can go and get tested as many times as they want or any time they feel like they need to. But our guys aren't going to catch [the virus] on the football field. They're going to catch it on campus. The argument then should probably be, 'We shouldn't be having school.' That's the argument. Why is it, 'We shouldn't be playing football?' Why has that become the argument?"
Noteworthy players and coaches, along with President Donald Trump, have tweeted support for fall college football seasons. Nebraska coach Scott Frost told reporters on Monday he would look to play outside of the Big Ten if the conference cancels the fall schedule as is expected.