Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley remains confident that the 2020 college football season will happen despite the increasing concerns and adjustments on this year's spring sports slate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I just can't imagine a scenario (where we don't play)," Riley said, according to David M. Hale of ESPN. "Whether it's something we do in the fall, whether it's a shortened season, whether it's spring, there's nothing we should take off the table. Regardless of what we have to do, I don't think there's anything we can't work around and we can't adjust and can't make work in order to play college football. We've all got to do our part on that."
The Big Ten and Pac-12 recently announced they will play conference-only schedules this season. The ACC is reportedly expected to follow that decision.
Meanwhile, the SEC has yet to make an official announcement regarding its 2020 schedule, but conference commissioner Greg Sankey said his level of concern is "high to very high" about playing college football amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Riley acknowledges that health is "the most important thing" but stresses that football is essential to the college landscape and beyond.
"The health and safety is the most important thing, and that's the determining factor," Riley said. "If we can't do it, we can't do it. But if we can, college football is so important to these communities, these universities, these athletes - not just football athletes, but college football affects every athlete on every campus. It's a big, big deal. It's not more important than health, but if we can get it to a safe place, we've got to find a way to get it done, whenever and however."
The 36-year-old head coach said in April that "the world is going to need football" by September, but a month later criticized the NCAA's plan of bringing players back to campus on June 1, calling it "one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard."
Some programs did reopen their facilities in early June. However, Oklahoma opted for its student-athletes' return on July 1. Upon the facilities reopening, the Sooners found 14 cases of coronavirus among their football players. The school announced a week later that no new tests came back positive from the team.