SEC football to begin Saturday with safety procedures, but COVID-19 interference anticipated


SEC football is set to begin Saturday with safety procedures in place

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban addressed the media Monday at noon. Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses and wide receiver DeVonta Smith spoke afterwards. A replay of the news conference is available above.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Most Southeastern Conference (SEC) fans haven’t had a chance to see college football up close this season, unless they’ve attended another conference’s games. They’ll finally get the opportunity this weekend.

The SEC kicks off football season Saturday with safety procedures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The league spent months preparing to return to the field, even putting together a task force to figure out the best strategy.

“I think the SEC, medically, has been out in front of this from the very beginning,” ESPN sideline reporter Cole Cubelic said.

Cubelic has had about as close a view as you can get of football during a pandemic, reporting on some of the games that have been played in other conferences. He says his role is a bit more challenging—having to wear a mask and getting less access to the players and coaches—but he believes the teams are well adjusted to the new procedures.

WATCH: Tuesday’s Zoom press conference with Alabama defensive lineman LaBryan Ray and quarterback Mac Jones

“It’s just like running plays in a game; they’ve practiced it,” Cubelic said. “So from that standpoint, I think they’ve become accustomed to it, and it makes it easier. You rep it, and you get used to it. So I haven’t seen a lot of complaints or discomfort.”

Under the new rules, all team personnel are required to wear face coverings while on the sidelines. The team box is wider, allowing for more distancing. During the week, players and coaches must be tested for COVID-19 three times. Any player who tests positive must isolate for at least 10 days. Those in close contact with the player who tested positive must quarantine for at least 14 days. A team must have 53 scholarship players available to be able to compete.

Cubelic says he has confidence that the SEC has a good strategy, but he believes games will be affected by COVID-19 in one way or another this year.


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