Last week, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott expressed pessimism about the prospect of the 2020 College Football season taking place as scheduled.
Scott, speaking with Andy Katz of NCAA.com, stated the need of flattening the COVID-19 curve to start the season as scheduled.
Is a 2020 College Football Season in the Fall Feasible?
Major League Soccer will be the first professional sports league to return this week. Other major leagues, such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB, have tentative plans to return to play starting later this month.
However, college sports have been put in a more precarious position. It is virtually impossible to keep college players in a bubble. Having students on some college campuses means that in-person classes will be a reality, at least at this point. It will be interesting to see if athletes will possibly have exemptions to not have to interact with the student population.
At the University of Colorado Boulder, there will be students living on-campus, off-campus in Boulder, and there will also be commuter students. They will either drive or take public transit to Boulder. With many people coming from different locations, it will be impossible to keep the “bubble” concept with the expectation that student-athletes have in-person interactions with other students.
The other issue that makes it harder to enforce a 2020 College Football season is that the athletes are not paid. It seems like a huge ask to make athletes stay within or apart from certain communities of people when they are not compensated for services in a purely monetary manner.
Which 2020 College Football Season Alternative Would Be the Best?
Larry Scott put some scenarios out for how the next College Football season may be played. Obviously, the best version of the season would be to have it be played as scheduled. However, there are three alternatives that Scott is considering.
Option 1: A Delayed Start
Delaying the start of the season could help, especially if fans are allowed in stadiums at some point. However, there are major negatives to this plan. For one, it could make the season extend into the start of the spring semester, which may affect players’ abilities to spend the holiday season with their families. It could also mean changes to the non-conference schedule. Delaying the season, but keeping it in the fall, would probably be the worst choice out of the three. Players must worry about their education and extending the regular season possibly through finals would be another distraction for everyone involved.
Option 2: Conference-Only Scheduling
Conference-only scheduling could be beneficial. Teams would be assured of only having to play regionalized games against their opponents. However, it could affect revenue that schools could receive from national exposure against other conferences. Oregon has a massive non-conference tilt against Ohio State in September. This game could and hopefully would get rescheduled if they are unable to play. However, it may rid the seniors of an opportunity they were promised when they were recruited to the school.
Option 3: Moving the Season to the Spring
Moving the 2020 College Football season to the spring may be the most feasible option out of the three Larry Scott presented. If all the conferences come to an agreement, the schedule could be maintained somewhat. There would still be some problems with this option though. It would be interesting to see what the financial impact of this decision would be. It could also complicate the NFL Draft process for players. Frankly, moving the season to the spring could cause more players to sit out to protect draft stock.
Moving the Season to the Spring Strongest Option Because of Possibility of Fans in Stands
All three of the options are flawed, which will rightly frustrate fans. However, there could be a vaccine before a spring football season, which could help the games have a college atmosphere. The fans and the pageantry are more integral to the college football scene than any other sport. College football without fans may be the weirdest to watch out of all sports. One thing is for sure: college football is at its greatest when teams and fans can share the pride they have in the university they get their education from. In the end, the hope is that the 2020 College Football season can take place in some form.