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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With all due respect to last weekend's slate of games, college football started in earnest last night when Miami beat UAB, 31-14, to kick off the Power 5 season.

The state of play... Power 5: ACC and Big 12 begin this weekend; SEC starts on Sept. 26; Big Ten and Pac-12 are postponed until the spring.

  • Group of 5: The American, Sun Belt and C-USA began last week; the MAC and Mountain West are postponed until spring.

The state of play: Just to reiterate a line you've maybe heard once or twice by now — this season's going to be pretty weird.

  • 54 of 130 FBS Division-I teams won't be taking the field this fall.
  • Notre Dame, famously one of the seven FBS Independents, has temporarily joined the ACC.
  • Conference scheduling: Most seasons begin with a handful of non-conference, tune-up games, but nearly every game this year will be played against a conference foe.
  • Testing: Players and coaches will get tested roughly three times a week — far more than the average student, per WSJ's Laine Higgins (subscription) — though some schools are withholding that data, citing student privacy laws.
  • Fans: 33 schools are allowing at least some fans from the get-go; but, as with the NFL, that number could change as the season goes on.

Between the lines: The uncertainty surrounding certain aspects of the season is shocking.

  • For example, the Big 12 is the only conference with actual guidelines on what will cause a game to be postponed (and they're pretty weak). Other leagues seem content to play it by ear.
  • "I have no idea what the requisites are to play or not play a game," said Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente. "No clue. Nobody knows to my knowledge. I don't know who makes the call."

What to watch: The Big Ten is facing mounting pressure to play as early as October, and there's potentially "game-changing" news out of the Pac-12.

  • Big Ten: Ohio State coach Ryan Day released a statement Thursday criticizing the lack of communication from the league, and James Franklin voiced his frustration on ESPN radio.
  • Pac-12: A new partnership with Quidel Corporation will give Pac-12 campuses access to daily testing by the end of September, two months ahead of previous estimates. Will that speed up their timeline? How soon can the Big Ten and others gain access to daily testing?

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
May 13, 2020 - Sports

Sports leagues are preparing for an era without fans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the turn of the century, futurist Watts Wacker predicted that sports stadiums of the future would essentially be sound stages optimized for TV, rather than coliseum-like structures built to seat thousands of fans.

Why it matters: Prior to the coronavirus, things were already moving in this direction, with teams building smaller, more intimate venues in response to declining attendance and changing viewing habits.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."