Even more than four months before it is scheduled to begin, the question of whether college football will be played this fall is a big one on sports fans’ minds as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

In an appearance Wednesday on the Bill Riley Show on ESPN700, University of Utah athletic director Mark Harlan gave some insight. As he has met with peers and medical professionals over the past few weeks, Harlan said a big determining factor will be how quickly players can start training.

“If I look at a full Rice-Eccles Stadium, which of course it would be on that Thursday night in September when we play BYU, it’s just hard for me today to see that, but you just don’t know... We’ve got to be smart and we’ve got to rely on the scientists and we’ve got to keep people safe.” — Utah athletic director Mark Harlan

He said sport scientists advise that players need roughly seven weeks to prepare their bodies (including fall camp) for the start of the season, which would be mid-July for the Utes, as their 2020 opener is scheduled for Sept. 3 at home against BYU.

Harlan noted that even determining that seven-week mark could be challenging for college football in general, however, as things might be stable in one state but not in another.