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Fate of college football won’t only be decided in conference offices

A pair of headlines from governors in New York and New Mexico are reminders that there are a lot of voices involved in college football's approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
New Mexico State fans won't have much to cheer for this season, if the Aggies honor their governor's recent request.
New Mexico State fans won't have much to cheer for this season, if the Aggies honor their governor's recent request. [ VICTOR CALZADA | AP ]
Published Jul. 22, 2020

As Florida college football fans wait for the SEC and ACC to announce updated plans for the 2020 season next week, two recent headlines from New York and New Mexico provide this important reminder: College administrators aren’t the only ones making decisions during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that spectators won’t be attending football games this year. “Even tailgating is off limits,” syracuse.com reports.

Related: How FSU could still open against West Virginia in Atlanta

Syracuse University is trying to clarify “the opportunity to have fans at our games and move forward appropriately under the guidance of the state,” athletic director John Wildhack told the site. But if Cuomo’s decision stands, Florida State’s Thursday night game against the Orange in November will be played at an empty dome instead of one at 25 to 50 percent capacity.

If Florida State plays Syracuse this November, it will likely be in front of empty stands.
If Florida State plays Syracuse this November, it will likely be in front of empty stands. [ STEVE CANNON | AP ]

The news out west goes a step farther.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asked her state’s major schools, New Mexico and New Mexico State, to “postpone college athletics in this moment of escalating danger,” according to a letter obtained by the Albuquerque Journal.

“I know what I am asking you to contemplate is difficult and unprecedented, but these are difficult and unprecedented times,” Lujan Grisham wrote. “Fighting COVID-19 is a team sport. I am asking each of you to join me and take it upon yourselves to do everything you can to fight COVID-19. Together we can protect all New Mexicans, and if we are successful, we can resume contact sports and re-engage in the camaraderie and joy they bring all of us in a safe manner as soon as we can.”

She also said that if the outbreaks subside in New Mexico, contact sports could return “later in the year or early in 2021.”

While it’s unclear what the Lobos and Aggies will do about her request, the letter and its ramifications matter in Florida; the Gators are scheduled to host New Mexico State on Nov. 21.

Related: College football’s Hail Mary for the fall: No non-conference games

Then again, that depends on whether the SEC allows non-conference games to happen in the first place. But as the last two days have reminded us, conferences aren’t the only ones who are deciding the future of this college football season.