The University of Alabama has a $14 million nutrition and sports center that, at the moment, isn’t even able to serve a boiled egg to a volleyball player.
The $16 million Sports Science Center is padlocked, metaphorically, with every piece of performance equipment imaginable (at $16 million, you can even afford a couple of Pelotons) unused.
The start of college football season, if all goes well, is just over five months away but at the moment, the players may find themselves working at home on yoga mats and lured by the call of fried fast food at 11 p.m.
There are countless logistical problems connected with resuming intercollegiate sports in the wake of the coronavirus in time for 2020-2021 but one of the main challenges is in the recognition that players have to be prepared before they can. Even if there isn’t some sort of ceremonial A-Day, there has to be a preparation period. That’s why those $30 million facilities exist in the first place.
“Obviously you just can’t go out and play games without any practice and development time beforehand,” Alabama director of athletics Greg Byrne said on his Tuesday teleconference, when asked about his discussions with Crimson Tide head football coach Nick Saban. "So we’ve talked about what different scenarios look like, so I can have his thoughts.
“As you all know, he’s always very well thought out on different possibilities, different scenarios. So it’s been very helpful. But we’re still — because of where we are in the process right now — we haven’t gotten any more specific than just looking at potential scenarios.”
Until there is more clarity regarding those scenarios, the UA athletic department is serving as a support system more so than a training ground.
“We have tried to provide support where appropriate with our student-athletes with the questions they have,” Byrne said. “They can call in and talk to our strength and conditioning coaches. They can talk about programs that we’re doing, but right now there are not a lot of gyms that are open. So our kids are just doing things on their own at their homes, and that’s what our coaches have tried to offer planning where it’s appropriate.”
Alabama’s football season is scheduled to begin Sept. 2 against Southern Cal in Dallas.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @cecilhurt