Phase II Starts For The Notre Dame Fighting And College Football
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Phase II Starts For Notre Dame, College Football

Injury reports in football often are given the generic “day to day” response by coaching or medical staffs.

That day-to-day synopsis best summarizes the 2020 college football season, if there indeed will be one at all.

Today, Monday, July 13, begins Phase II for Notre Dame’s summer football workouts, and ones in college football overall, while preparing for contingency options that could occur.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish football players at practice
Notre Dame is scheduled to open preseason practice on Aug. 7, but mandatory workouts begin today (July 13). (Mike Miller)

Phase I commenced June 22 with voluntary workouts — which saw numerous Football Bowl Subdivision teams hit the pause button because of outbreaks of COVID-19 within the athletic department among players and/or staff. Among them were perennial national title contender Ohio State and North Carolina.

Meanwhile, another football superpower, Clemson, revealed that 47 student-athletes tested positive for the coronavirus as of last week, including 37 football players (nearly one-third of the roster).

Consequently, in the past week the Ivy League cancelled fall sports until at least the spring, the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they will go to a conference-only format with games — meaning that Wisconsin (Oct. 3), Stanford (Oct. 10) and USC (Nov. 28) have been eliminated from Notre Dame’s schedule — and Fighting Irish director of athletics Jack Swarbrick acknowledged that a delay to the season is becoming more possible.

“It has grown more pessimistic over the past two weeks, but I’m not to a point to say we shouldn’t continue to plan for the potential to open on time,” Swarbrick told ESPN’s Heather Dinich. “I just think it’s less likely. We have to shift our allocations a little bit — a little more time on planning the alternatives, and a little less time on planning routine go-forward.”

As for the Fighting Irish themselves, no news has been tremendous news with regard to individuals. Per the university, only one athlete among the 252 tests has tested positive for the coronavirus, and a full recovery was made.

The question now is whether the other three Power Five conferences — the ACC, Big 12 and SEC — will follow the lead of the Big Ten and Pac-12 and go to a league-only format. As a partial football member of the ACC, Notre Dame already has six such league games on the docket and commissioner John Swofford has gone on record that the Fighting Irish would be in the mix to round out a league-only slate.

By the end of this month, the other leagues, including the American Athletic Conference in which opening-game opponent Navy is scheduled for Sept. 5 or 6, are also expected to have decisions made.

According to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, a meeting among ACC athletics directors with Swofford will take place this week, with formal decisions to be made by late July.

Said Swofford in a released statement last week: “The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times. We anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.”

Until then, here is the schedule planning this summer for the Fighting Irish:

Phase II, July 13-23: Mandatory Workouts

Per the NCAA, a team can require up to eight hours of weight training, conditioning and film review per week, with no more than two hours of film review per week.

This schedule applies to teams who start Labor Day Weekend — as Notre Dame ostensibly will versus Navy on either Sept. 5 or 6. This begins 25 days before the first permissible practice day.

Phase III, July 24-Aug. 6: Walk-Throughs And Meetings

This two-week window will be utilized as an “install” time that was lost by missing the final 14 of the allowed 15 practices in spring.

There are several components to this 20 permissible hours per week (the normal time allotted by the NCAA once the season begins):

• Up to eight hours per week for weight training and conditioning.

• Up to six hours per week for walk-throughs, which may include the use of a football.

• Up to six hours per week for meetings, which may include film review, team meetings, position meetings, one-on-one meetings, etc.

Phase IV, Aug. 7: Preseason Training Camp Begins

This annually begins 29 days before the season opener.

The added factor this year is that the fall semester class schedule begins Aug. 10, about two to three weeks earlier than normal at Notre Dame. Thus, it’s not just “all football” during that time as it had been in the past.

Beyond that … stay tuned.


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