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Week In Sports: College Football's Future In Flux After Big 10, Pac-12 Cancel Seasons

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: The Big Ten and Pac-12 cancel their full seasons while other leagues planning to play. And the St. Louis Coronavirus Cardinals are on their way to Chicago for a big series. ESPN Michelle Steele joins us from Chicago.

Thanks for being with us, Michelle.

MICHELLE STEELE: Sure, Scott. Great to talk to you again.

SIMON: Oh, wonderful to talk to you. And what do these other conferences know or think they know that makes them go ahead and play while the Big Ten and Pac-12 have canceled?

STEELE: Yes, it's real interesting, right? Interesting is one word for it. Bonkers, I think, is another. And to me it's just a microcosm...

SIMON: That's a good one, too, yeah.

STEELE: Yeah, it's a microcosm for the whole country is handling this virus. You know, you've got the South going one way, the Midwest going another and on and on. Now, you mentioned the Big Ten was the first to come out and stake the position of, you know, there's too many unknowns here. Nobody really knows the long-term ramifications. Let's just delay this to the spring. And they were followed quickly by the Pac-12. Now the other conferences who are playing - the SECC, the ACC and the Big 12 - they've got their own medical experts that they're leaning on. And they say that they can play safely. So they're pressing forward for now. But I think the quote of the week came from the NCAA, their health advisor Carlos Del Rio, who said, Scott, he feels like they've hit the Titanic. They've hit the iceberg. They're on the Titanic - excuse me - and, quote, "we're trying to make decisions on what time the band should play." The other conferences obviously don't think they're on the Titanic.

SIMON: Puts players in a heck of a position, doesn't it?

STEELE: Oh gosh, yeah. I mean, for the guys who are sidelined, there's tremendous disappointment. Now, some of them who are eligible will start preparing for the NFL draft. They're not going to go back to college. Most guys, though, are going to wait for the spring. But everybody's watching the conferences who are going to play. You know, we're already seeing, Scott, players hold out from practice or speak out about, you know, inadequate safety protocols. You know, Syracuse and Florida State players did this week.

SIMON: There is a - let's switch to baseball. There's a caravan on the road, Route 66 between St. Louis and Chicago this weekend, isn't there?

STEELE: Yeah. Yeah. You and I know it well, but there's 41 rental cars that went from St. Louis to Chicago. Now I can tell you that Cardinals players do like each other but the team decided to rent 41 cars for every member of the traveling party because they want to keep them away from each other for as much as possible before they regroup at the ballpark in Chicago today. The Cards, Scott, have had 18 players and staff infected with the coronavirus. They haven't played baseball for the last two and a half weeks. So they're going to play a bunch of baseball on the South Side of Chicago for the next couple of days, and then they're going to go to the north side. They're going to try to minimize travel as much as possible. But they're going to be playing a bunch of baseball between now and the end of September.

SIMON: To finish a 60-game game schedule. And so it's going to be double header after double. header, isn't it?

STEELE: Yeah, if you like double headers, you're in luck. Fifty-five games in 44 days, and the teams already had - yeah. Yeah, they've had seven more double headers added to their schedule to make up for all the lost time. You know, they've only played five games. So it's August 15...

SIMON: Well, that's astonishing. Yeah.

STEELE: It's absolutely jaw dropping. They have 21 games to play for the rest of the month. It's August 15 already, so they might want to invest in some pitching help if you ask me.

SIMON: Just some pitching help and, you know, I think some vitamin supplements, too. In any event, ESPN's Michelle Steele. Always good to talk to you.

Thanks so much.

STEELE: You too, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.