We must assume the big brains of researchers and their computers will solve the riddle of this diabolical virus eventually. When that happens, it’s a certainty the subject covered in this section of the newspaper and online — sports — will be facing immense challenges.

Sports are discretionary spending for sponsors, other corporations and the public. There also will be lingering paranoia with many former attendees over sharing tight spaces in stadiums, arenas, even tailgate areas.

My opinions, and here’s another:

That $140 million roster and tremendous lineup the Twins planned to present? When the coronavirus financial beating is over, it will be a magnanimous gesture by the Pohlads to support a $100 million payroll in 2021.

There are already dire predictions of a financial fate that will befall college athletic programs. The University of Minnesota has suggested a minimum $10 million decline in athletic revenue.

The guess here is that’s too optimistic, even with a full football season. And guess what? The first $10 million cut in expenses should not come in low-revenue sports; it should come from football.

Football pays the bills, you scream. So what?

This is a university that exists through the residents of Minnesota. Those residents are men and women, football families and gymnastics families. There’s an obligation to continue to present valid sports opportunities for a wide spectrum of students.

It’s absurd FBS teams can offer 85 scholarships — with another 25 walk-ons for Power Five programs. That scholarship number should be 70 (or fewer), and with 90 bodies total.

It’s absurd P.J. Fleck came here making $1 million (with incentives) and, in his fourth season, he will be kicking off a new contract at $4.6 million.

Also absurd: The ever-growing football support staff; a $170 million athletic facility devoted largely to football, and a drain to the university’s more vital fundraising; and colleges footing the bill as the developmental arm of the NFL, the most profitable sports league in U.S. history.

The first post-virus gouge in athletic budgets should come in football — at Minnesota, and across the Power Five landscape.

 

Write to Patrick Reusse by e-mailing sports@startribune.com and including his name in the subject line.

PLUS THREE

• We want to pay college football players? Let’s start here: $20 million annually per NFL team — a fund of $640 million to pay its college farmhands.

• Dabo Swinney, the countrified egomaniac, makes $9.3 million per year coaching at Clemson and still was whining about something last week.

• Remember Fleck telling Jim Rome on radio in April 2017 that he “took a major pay cut’’ to leave Western Michigan? Seven years, $33 million-plus starting this season; yup, the Gophs probably have made P.J. whole.