Orange Watch: Fight to contain COVID-19 could disrupt 2020 Syracuse football

Moe Neal Western Michigan
Sept. 21 2019; Syracuse NY, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Moe Neal (21) rushes forward during Syracuse's 52-33 win over the Western Michigan Broncos at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Item: With government officials essentially putting us all on self-imposed lockdown at our residences except for essential travel to continue daily life, and with health and safety paramount, it seems likely there will be some sort of alteration surrounding the 2020 football season.

What if they renovated the Dome with new roof, scoreboard, lighting, and sound system, and no Orange fans are able to show up… at least right away?

That was our immediate reaction when we heard New York governor Andrew Cuomo this past Sunday provide his realistic timeline for his state’s fight to curb the nation’s highest total of citizens infected with the virus.

It’s a timeline to not only reduce the spread of the illness, but treating the currently infected patients, the influx of newly infected patients, the medical personnel attending to the patients, and the ongoing plea to reduce social contact to the bare minimum needed to help comply with that order.

“This is not a short-term situation,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to be four months, six months, nine months. Nobody has a crystal ball. No one can tell you. But it is in that range. So start to plan accordingly.”

» Related: Don McPherson says Syracuse football in for ‘bounce back’ year in 2020

We couldn’t help but think that a large gathering of people under the Dome’s new permanent roof when the ‘Cuse hosts historic rival and neighbor Colgate Sept. 19, might not be realistic five months from now. Let alone the scheduled games Sept. 4 at Boston College and Sept. 12 at Rutgers.

The games could perhaps be contested, but would fans be allowed to congregate in mass?

That feeling was reinforced with Monday’s announcement that the 2020 on-campus SU commencement event scheduled for May 10 on the Quad due to the Dome construction, would be canceled, coming on the heels of the spring semester being converted entirely to online learning at the outset of the pandemic.

Next to ponder, directly related to many football players who enroll in summer classes while working out with teammates; will Summer Session I, scheduled for May 18-June 26, and Summer Session II, set for June 29-Aug. 7, be held on campus as scheduled?

In relation to scheduled summer events, especially as Orange coaches, players and staff members are involved, ACC Football Kickoff Media Day dates have been set years in advance. The 2021 kickoff to the season is set for the third week of July at the Westin Charlotte. How long until decisions have to be made on moving forward as scheduled or not?

While Syracuse athletics remains shut down along with the rest of global sports, the roof renovation of the 40-year-old Dome has been one of the few tangible signs of progress around campus these days.

Unfortunately, we have a strong hunch that the large force of construction workers on the project site will have more time than the original deadline (six months and 19 days) to complete the first phase of the project.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 648 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.