What to make of the MLB coronavirus outbreak: And what to think about next, as start of college football looms

Is NCAA football vulnerable?

Corey Dickerson of the Miami Marlins hits a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2020.
Corey Dickerson of the Miami Marlins hits a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2020. (2020 Getty Images)

Those working to get college sports up and running have been hoping the return of professional sports would provide valuable information that could aid their efforts to play through a pandemic.

And yet, a COVID-19 outbreak for a Major League Baseball team, the Miami Marlins, just three days into the season is now forcing games to be postponed -- and has brought a glimpse of how difficult the task could be.

“We’re still learning things and this is a data point, there’s no doubt about that,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We’re doing what our scientists and doctors are telling us to do. Move forward slowly and constantly re-evaluate.

“I think this will just be the new normal. There will be ebbs and flows and there’ll be disruptions.”

Like MLB — and unlike the NBA, NHL, WNBA and MLS — college sports will try to conduct their seasons outside a controlled, virus-free bubble. The first major college football games are a little more than a month away.

COVID-19 flare-ups have shut down voluntary workouts throughout July at about two dozen major college football programs, including Ohio State, North Carolina, Kansas State and Houston.

Last week, Michigan State and Rutgers both announced positive tests among players and staff led to 14-day quarantine for their entire teams.

Full-blown practices for teams trying to start their seasons around the Labor Day weekend will begin by early next week.