I̵7;m what I’m hearing: Dan Wolken details his conversations with university administrators and their fears of setting up a college football season during a pandemic. It is one of the many reasons for its possible postponement.
For nearly five months, college football has grasped how to conduct a traditional season while acknowledging the uncertain degree of health and safety concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
If the league officially cancels this coming season, the Big Ten could be the catalyst for any Power Five conference reaching the same conclusion: Despite best efforts to create a workable environment for competition, college football is an unfortunate disaster. and COVID-19.
As we await the fate of the 2020 season, here is what we know about the state of play in the Bowl Sharing:
Domino effect of power five
The conference has been leading the conversation by playing between COVID-19 since at least July, when the Big Ten decision to eliminate the non-conference game was largely reflected by the rest of the Five Powers.
In that case, the Big Ten was quickly followed by the Pac-12. These two leagues, long in closing, are again seemingly in agreement regarding the ability to play even a changed schedule against the background of the pandemic.
The immediate impact of the Big Ten potential move on the power of Five is difficult to assess. With the games scheduled to start in late September, the SEC may feel comfortable waiting deeper in August before announcing its plans. Likewise with the Big 12 and ACC.
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In a series of tweets, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday that the conference “has been deliberate at every step since March”.
“We know the concerns remain,” he said. “Can we play? I do not know. We have not stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day and we will continue to do so … every day.”
On Tuesday at the Dan Patrick Show, Sankey said it was unlikely the SEC would play by itself if the other four Power Five conferences decided not to drop football.
“I don’t think it’s the right direction, really,” Sankey said. “Can we? Of course. There is a difference between you can do something and if you have to do something in life.”
One thing is for sure: By leading the conversation again, the Big Ten will force the rest of the Power Five to address whether it is possible to justify competition when at least one other league has decided to play at the table at least during the winter. And if so, can three or even two leagues compete as independent bodies without all the accompanying parts in a normal season?
Mid-American Conference and Mountain West have already announced the cancellation of their fall seasons
Coaches and players are irritated
There is a high degree of frustration among coaches who feel stuck in a host match due to an insecure season. As practices continue, coaching staffs are unable to provide information to players who have already spent five months largely without any concrete direction regarding the fate of the competition.
“We know how things change and how flowing it is,” said Louisville coach Scott Satterfield. “We would like to get something final, just for our mental sake.”
Meanwhile, players are irritated by their lack of voice in the decision-making process. This led to some star players posting tweets on Sunday using the hashtags #WeAreUnited and #WeWantToPlay.
“Football is a safe haven for so many people,” Clemson Post spokesman Trevor Lawrence posted on Twitter. “We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than to play football.”
Lawrence also posted a statement calling for universal security protocols, guaranteeing acceptance and the creation of “a College Football Players Association” with player representatives from each of the Five Power conferences.
The possibility of spring football
The Big Ten – if she chooses to close – is likely to grab her attention in the spring. In a vacuum, spring football will follow the same planning as a traditional season and possibly end with the College Football Game, though that format will require you to rebury the post-season map and potentially change locations for the national semifinals.
Some questions still remain unanswered. For one, when would a spring season begin? When would it end? Would teams be able to play non-conference games? What about bowl games? And what would a spring makeup season mean for the traditional competition calendar in the fall of 2021?
What would it look like next fall
Playing two full seasons in a calendar year is unlikely to have the opportunity for players to be given enough time to rest and recover between the end of a possible spring season and the beginning of autumn.
Rather, should FBS shift to a spring schedule to require both seasons to be shortened, with a single conference spring matching a short fall season. In either case, the game-reduction solution would eliminate the non-conference game, which the Five Powers had already established as a solution to ensure planning flexibility without making major sacrifices in the championship race.
Players to choose from
We’ve already seen a handful of high-profile college stars refuse this season to prepare for the NFL, led by Penah State Miche Parsons. While others are committed to playing in the fall, such as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, the equation would change as the entire FBS competition goes into the spring.
There is a potential conflict with the NFL draft, which would seemingly overlap with the final stage of a spring season. An injury suffered during the spring would also have a stronger impact on the player’s stock due to the proximity of the fall – a prospect suffering an injury may not be able to recover until September, for example.
Even if players entering the draft were able to make it healthy during the spring season, the prospect of returning immediately and going to an NFL training camp would be physically challenging.
Changes coming in recruitment
The entire calendar will need to be adjusted to meet the impact of the coronavirus, which has already profoundly altered the normal course of recruitment during the 2021 cycle.
If football takes place in the spring, the NCAA will have to decide whether to allow early registrants, who usually start classes in January, to participate in the season and still hold a suitable four years. This in addition to deciding whether to move the second day of the national signature away from February and deeper into the spring, which in turn may require changes to the 2022 cycle.
Schools are currently unable to wait for recruits for official visits although August 31st. This is likely to be extended if the season closes.