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Universities in Texas expect students, and football, this fall

Having some of the most profitable programs in college football back on campus might mean something. Or it might not.

The Texas Longhorns spirit squad leads out the team prior to game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on November 29, 2019 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a football-obsessed state like Texas, it’s little wonder that even when the topic is about the health and well-being of the state’s flagship institutions as a whole, the first thing people ask about is the Longhorns, Aggies, and Red Raiders.

And it seems these schools, two of whom no longer play each other annually because pride cometh before the fall out of the Top 10, are gearing towards having students on campus as well as college football this coming fall according to a report by the Texas Tribune.

On Thursday, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told all 11 university presidents in the system that they will reopen their campuses next school year and be ready to play sports, a university system official confirmed to The Texas Tribune. Texas Tech University has also announced that it plans to resume on-campus classes in the fall, and university President Lawrence Schovanec told the Tribune that Tech is planning to play sports, too, though it’s unlikely either school will be able to bring back sports like football on its own.

Meanwhile, University of Texas System Chancellor James B. Milliken told the Tribune during a live event Thursday that “it’s pretty clear we will be open in the fall.”

“Not entirely like last fall, but not like this spring, either,” he said.

Unlike his counterpart at A&M, Milliken didn’t make a declaration about football.

“Sports are maybe the only thing above the chancellor’s pay grade,” he said.

Having one of the most pigskin mad states returning to the field seems like a positive development. But as we’ve learned across the world, even the best laid plans are still at the mercy of the Covid-19 virus and the amount of available testing for it. Will the university presidents of two Big 12 and one SEC school be able to make this so, or will they be forced to bow to realities beyond their control?

It’s too soon to say for sure. But the fact the nation’s second-largest state by population appears to be universally on board with returning to class in the fall means we might be edging closer to having football as well.