No one knows what the 2020 college football season holds. Many conferences may be gearing up to run their seasons independently of their cohorts. It will be interesting to see how different conferences react to developments surrounding the coronavirus, but there have been seeds that have been planted as far as state orders in some of the top Pac-12 cities.
Governors Kate Brown and Gavin Newsom Offer Grim Outlook on College Football Fans in Pac-12 Stadiums
Oregon Governor Kate Brown stated her belief that fans will not be able to gather for sporting events through September. This development means that Oregon’s huge Week 2 game against Ohio State could be played in front of no fans. Depending on how different areas of the country move along with their response, should both Oregon and Ohio State consider switching the venues this season? However, questions like these are met with a double-edge sword. Stadiums will most likely not be able to fill up to 100 percent capacity by September anywhere.
California Governor Gavin Newsom cast his doubt on fans being able to see their favorite Pac-12 teams in action. His belief is that a vaccine needs to be widely available. It is hard to imagine Stanford hosting USC or California hosting TCU in front of no fans. However, this may be the reality. It may be hard for someone to accept the risk associated with attending a sporting event without a vaccine.
How Might College Football Fans React to the 2020 College Football Season Being Pushed Back
Non-conference games like TCU-California and Ohio State-Oregon are scheduled with the fans in mind. These types of games are supposed to bring in revenue for these schools. Fans get hyped for huge out-of-conference games because they provide teams from within the conference with a chance to become more nationally relevant. The Pac-12 has not made the College Football Playoff since 2016, and winning these types of games is paramount for them to become relevant. The atmosphere at these types of games always makes it more difficult for the opponent. Sure, there would be the issue of travel for the road teams, but would Ohio State see a road game against Oregon without the raucous Duck crowd as a hostile environment.
There are season-ticket holders who invest in their favorite college team, whether that team is from their alma mater or if they are connected to them some other way. When a team like Ohio State is going to play in Eugene, fans want to see that game. It will be interesting to see the ways in which conferences ramp up security so fans do not congregate outside the stadium. They will still want to be heard even if they are not allowed in the stadium.
Another Factor to Consider For 2020 College Football Season: The Lack of Player Compensation
College football players have the distinct challenge of trying to balance their studies with another full-time job: playing for the football team. While most players are provided with the benefits of a scholarship and a monthly stipend for food, it would be crazy for these conferences to force them back on the field.
The NCAA and the conferences themselves will have to ask themselves the question of if they want to put these players at risk. College football is at more of a risk of being postponed until next spring because these players are not compensated unlike the NFL. Students may not be returning to campus next semester. For example, the University of Colorado Boulder may be offering a hybrid of in-person and remote learning during the fall semester. If students cannot be on campus all the time, is it too much for institutions and fans to expect their athletes to stay on campus all the time?
Despite the Circumstances, There Is Hope for the Future
Delaying gratification is tough for any human. However, if there ends up being a delay in the start of the 2020 college football season, it is not like the games will not still happen. Oregon and Ohio State will hopefully still end up playing each other in a home-and-home series. These matchups are great for college football. College football is a great escape from the stresses of school for students and the stress of work for the general fan base. There may be a question of when college sports can return to normal, but there is a lot of hope that they will return to normal. Whether it’s in a stadium or on a couch, college football fans will eventually be able to see their favorite teams in action again.