Iowa Football: Gary Barta optimistic on fans, players will return June 8.

Gary Barta hosted a zoom press-conference today and was optimistic that not only will Iowa Football play in 2020, but that fans will be in the stands. Barta also announced that the football program would be back on campus on June 8th for voluntary workouts.

Gary Barta gave confident and bold projections for the Iowa Football 2020 season, with a belief that not only will the season be played, but that the Hawkeye faithful would be in attendance.

Barta stated in his press conference to Iowa media, that as of now “Plan A” is to continue with no fan restrictions. Barta acknowledged that this may not be possible 99 days from now when football season is expected to kick-off, following up with “we’re also having to plan for something less than that” and it is fair to assume that the demand would not be there for all 69,000+ tickets.

Personally, I don’t see any way that Kinnick Stadium is full when the 2020 season starts this season, it’s unfortunate but I understand it. If you told me two months ago that there was even gonna be college football, I would have been ecstatic let alone with any fans, but especially full capacity.

Despite Barta’s confidence, I do not share the same belief and optimism that fans will be allowed in Kinnick Stadium in 2020. There is just no plausible way unless we see increased testing or the virus significantly slows down (or a vaccine is found) but I won’t get into the politics of it all. I believe I share the understanding with most people that this season will be vastly different than any season since World War 2, but in what way remains to be seen.

Although I don’t hold the same belief of Barta that Kinnick will be full, it does protrude hope for myself and other fans that the University of Iowa is ready to manage COVID-19 and that we will see the Iowa Hawkeyes in action this season.

Iowa football players will report back to Iowa City for “voluntary” work-outs on June 8th. Barta used the classic line that every coach / athletic director has said regarding voluntary workouts stating:

“If we have a student-athlete who chooses not to return, they will still remain in good standing with their team. We will work to mitigate the concerns that they raise. But we would not have a student-athlete during this year, if they felt they couldn’t compete or train because of this COVID-19 virus, they would not lose their status or their scholarship.”

The right thing to do? Obviously.

Politically correct? Yes.

Factually accurate? Let’s be honest, it is not and everyone knows it.

Barta also touched on the protocol of a positive test, explained that if there was a positive test, things would not be shut down and that the show would need to go on.  After being asked about what the plan would be if an athlete got sick and if things would be shut down. Barta answered, “My answer is we won’t shut down. The minute someone gets sick, but because we anticipate people will get sick, and then it’s just a matter of managing.”

The full transcript of Barta’s press conference can be found here.

With the Hawkeye football team set to return just eight days away, only one thing is certain. Uncertainty.

No one, not Gary Barta or Kirk Ferentz, not the Big Ten and not the NCAA knows how the 2020 college football season will play out. But Barta’s optimism regarding the Coronavirus provides much-needed hope for Hawkeye fans in these trying times.

America, as bad as it may be to say, needs its sports back. The Iowa City economy flourishes around Saturday’s at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City needs sports. But if there isn’t a safe, legal way to make the 2020 season happen, it is irresponsible. The University of Iowa would be in serious jeopardy of not only public and media backlash but a financial catastrophe for the entire athletic program.

Barta believes there is a way for Kinnick Stadium to be full September 5th against UNI, but whether or not his confident projections are possible, well that remains to be seen.