FAYETTEVILLE — Less than 72 hours of the SEC handing the University of Arkansas one of the most brutal football schedules in league history Hunter Yurachek was on The Paul Finebaum Show discussing his thoughts on if there will be a college football season.
Yurachek who is Arkansas’ vice-chancellor and director of athletics, has repeatedly stated a desire for the college football season to be played this fall. At this time, the SEC is scheduled to begin practices on Monday, Aug. 17, and then kickoff the season on Saturday, Sept. 26.
But following the Mid-American Conference canceling the football season on Saturday due to COVID-19 and reports on Monday of the Big Ten doing the same thing probably to be followed by the Pac-12 on Tuesday the status of the SEC is now up in the air.
“I look forward to the day I can come on your show and talk about something that is exciting like student-athletes playing sports,” Yurachek said. “And what success they are having on and off the field.”
Finebaum talked about the numerous reports and asked Yurachek where the SEC is at today?
“We have a regularly scheduled call on Mondays just like we do most days now,” Yurachek said. “We’re continuing to proceed. We proceeding with caution, but we feel we have a really good plan that started back roughly two week’s ago when we announced a 10-game conference-only schedule.
“Early last week we released a practice schedule that pushed our practices back. Starting next Monday we get 20 hours a week for our student-athletes to help re-acclimate them to their sport of football. We released our medical protocols by way of our medical task force late last week. We/ve got a plan we want to continue to work that plan. We’re not gonna panic because another Power 5 conference may be making a different decision. In the Southeastern Conference, (Commissioner) Greg Sankey does an incredible job leading us. Part of his leadership in the past several months has been for us to be patient and take time in making decision. These are some really impactful decisions we’re having to make and there’s no need to rush into making those decisions.”
Yurachek is very aware of all the risks involved for athletes. He has a son who is a sophomore at Fayetteville High School, one who is a linebacker for the Razorbacks and another who is a grad assistant with the Hogs.
“I’m not a medical professional,” Yurachek said. “I like to say during this time I’m an AD not an MD. I lean heavily on our medical team here at the University of Arkansas as well as our SEC Medical Task Force. I believe they met and put together a pretty good plan for our student-athletes. A plan that we have technically been implementing since June 8.
“If you look at testing right now for our football program we have zero active cases and we have zero student-athletes currently quarantined on our campus. We’re ready to get started with practice next Monday. That can continue to change, but our student-athletes, Coach (Sam) Pittman and I meet with them on a regular basis. They want to play and not just in the sport of football, but that goes for women’s soccer and volleyball.
“My wife and I both feel comfortable with our sons participating based on what we know.”
Yurachek was very complimentary of the #WeWantToPlay group of players and their organization.
“The #WeWantToPlay is the right thing right now,” Yurachek said. “That could change in the next two or three weeks and I may change my opinion about that based on some additional information we may receive. I’m really proud of how the student-athletes nationally are coming out and expressing their opinion on this.”
Yurachek talked about where college football is if the Big Ten and Pac-12 both cancel the fall football season?
“It leaves college football in a really tough spot,” Yurachek said. “Early on I read some articles about the Spanish Flu of 1918. Back in 1918 and 1919 some schools played four or five games and some played seven, eight or nine games. I’m not sure they declared a national champion, but they played college football. Last year was the 150th anniversary of college football. College football has survived a number of things during the past 150 years and I truly believe college football in some way, shape or form can survive what we’re going through right now. It may survive without all the teams in the Power 5 or FBS participating, but college football will survive.”
Yurachek talked about how the SEC will hold together in an effort to have the football season.
“I think it’s great leadership from our conference office holding us together,” Yurachek said. “We don’t always agree on everything when in a meeting or on a Zoom call or whatever the case may be. We’re gathering as leaders of our 14 SEC institutions, but when we end that meeting we’re all on t he same page, all together and all believe we’ve made the right decisions for the health and well being of our student-athletes we each represent moving forward.
“And I credit Greg Sankey for keeping us on the same page as far as that goes. We don’t all agree and we represent 11 different states and we all have our own challenges with this virus within our own states and on our campuses. Greg has done a great job of keeping us all on the same page since March 11.”