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NCAA allows college football season to start one week early

Pete Thamel
·2-min read

As college football programs attempt to navigate their way to the start of the football season, the NCAA issued a “blanket waiver” on Monday evening that may help them get there quicker.

The NCAA e-mailed conference football officials to inform them that the season can begin on Aug. 29 for all FBS programs, according to an e-mail viewed by Yahoo Sports. Normally, the week that’s become known Week 0 is limited and protected.

NCAA director of championships Ty Halpin explained in the e-mail viewed by Yahoo Sports that the move came in an effort to “provide additional flexibility due to the impact of COVID-19.” That led the NCAA to issue a blanket waiver for Aug. 29 to become “the first permissible contest date for the 2020 DI football season.”

As schools and conferences attempt to navigate this unprecedented season, there’s a sense from some coaches and administrators that the early start may be advantageous to spread out the season to deal with the inevitable quarantine and contact tracing issues that are expected to emerge. The early date offers flexibility as potential issues emerge.

Both Oklahoma and Kansas moved their opening games to Aug. 29 after getting a waiver from the NCAA. A source said that the NCAA was getting enough interest in waivers that it decided to issue a blanket one. The document viewed by Yahoo Sports revealed that the blanket waiver was “requested by the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee.”

Some movement to an Aug. 29 start date has tipped the hands of the actions of some leagues. With Oklahoma and Kansas moving their games there, it hints that the Big 12 intends to attempt to start the season on time and not push back from a delay.

It’d be difficult for the Big 12 to attempt to delay the season, as both OU and Kansas are scheduled to start training camp on Friday. Coaches have consistently maintained the past few weeks that training camp would be difficult to stop and move around once it begins, considering the physical and mental strain on the players.

There are five games currently scheduled for Week 0. Those 10 schools will end up being closely watched, as they are expected to hold the first full-contact training camps held around the country.

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