Former John Marshall football standout Darrell Thompson is hopeful that college football will be played this fall.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the college sports spring season was canceled.
Professional sports have gradually been reopening and as of now it appears college football has a solid chance of being played in 2020.
“I sure hope so,” Thompson said. “I’m not super confident because of all of the things that are going on. It feels like things are opening up little by little.”
Thompson is a 1986 John Marshall grad who went on to star at the University of Minnesota. The running back was then a first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers and he played five seasons in the NFL.
“I think we’ll have something, but I just wonder how they’re going to handle spectators," Thompson said. "The spectator thing is going to be the biggest piece for me because I think there is going to be a season.”
Thompson runs a business in the Twin Cities and he has also been doing color commentary on the radio for Gophers football games for more than 20 seasons.
“People are going to catch the virus," Thompson said. "I think LSU had like 30 players and Clemson had like 25 players and Minnesota had a handful of players. So they quarantine and make sure everyone is forthright about whether they have the virus.”
Thompson said it will be tough on a team's chemistry if players test positive for COVID-19 and have to miss up to two weeks. Star players being out, especially the quarterback, could be very problematic and Thompson said having depth could prove to be very important.
“It would make you want to be sure you’re training your first and second team,” Thompson said. “You just have to. Most teams might want to be a little more careful. Most teams probably let their first-team quarterback get 80 or 90 percent (of the practice snaps). I might go a little closer to 60-40, especially if I have a veteran quarterback.
"They just need to have someone else ready in case this guy tests (positive)," he added. "You need a contingency plan if you throw out the second-team guy. He needs to be comfortable with making the checks and reading the coverages. And the same with everyone else."
Thompson has four children, aging in range from 27 to 21. All four are or were college athletes and his two sons are still playing, both in the Big Ten Conference. True Thompson is a redshirt senior wide receiver for the Minnesota football team and Race Thompson is a redshirt sophomore forward on the Indiana men’s basketball team.
The Minnesota football team is currently having captains' practices.
“My son’s been practicing," Thompson said.
If there is a fall season, Thompson is looking forward to returning to the broadcast booth.
“I enjoy it. It’s a way to stay close to football," he said. "I kind of entertained coaching a little bit and I had a friend who was trying to recruit me to be a referee. I wasn't super fired up but I was going to try it because I had just got done (playing).”
He never did try officiating, however.
“That was the same week I got the call to be part of a broadcast," he said. "And I was like ‘I can’t do all this and still be a dad and coach my kids.’ So it just went away. The broadcasting has given me the football fix that keeps me excited about the game."
Guy N. Limbeck is a sports writer for the Post Bulletin. His Local Notebook appears each Tuesday. He can be reached at email@example.com.