Reports are circulating that the college football season is in jeopardy (Photo by USAToday Sports)
As the rollercoaster that is 2020 continues to speed right along, Tiger fans continue to experience the highs, lows, and the loop-de-loops of that ride. Today has been no different.
First, the Mid-American Conference announced that its presidents unanimously voted to postpone fall sports until the spring. They are the first FBS league taking this step. This now puts the other nine in an awkward position trying to justify playing.
The Big-10 also released a statement saying that it has halted progress toward full-contact practice until further notice. The conference had a regularly scheduled presidents meeting Saturday, and there was speculation nationally that the wealthiest conference in the country was considering postponing fall sports as well.
All of this comes just one day after the SEC announced every member’s opponents for a 10-game season, Earlier in the week the Big-10 and ACC released their schedules. Kickoff for the Big-10 has been set for September 3, and the ACC for September 10.
Canceling the football season is a decision that would be devastating both culturally and financially. Not only to the schools, but the surrounding areas as well.
Pac-12 presidents have a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday. They have been more closely aligned with the Big Ten than any other league, and even followed their decision to play conference games only this season, going public a day later.
If the Big-10, Pac-12, or both bail on the season, it would be almost impossible for the rest of the Power-5 conferences to continue.
“I think it looks too bad,” an SEC source said. “I don’t think you can. What do you accomplish? How do you win a national championship?”
The next few days could see a bunch of announcements that Could bring the season to a screeching halt altogether. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on ESPN radio Saturday cited the events of March 12 when each conference independently, but unanimously shut down their basketball tournaments.
“That’s an indicator of the future, but not a guarantee,” Sankey said. “I can’t provide certainty but I can provide clarity.”
Since the cancellation of March Madness and all spring sports, college administrators have been looking for ways to avoid their worst-case scenario of losing the football season. Hopes have risen and fallen throughout the course of the summer.
Even when things looked the darkest in July, the sport remained determined to push on. That’s because the alternative is too painful. The loss of tens of millions of dollars in revenue, a financial catastrophe that could lead to wholesale cutting of Olympic sports, athletic scholarships, and jobs for many of the universities and colleges across America.
What would it take to have the season go forward?
“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward.” NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said Friday night on the association’s weekly Social Series.
With that said, not much has aligned in recent weeks. From a national health perspective COVID-19 infections have soared through July, and deaths have also increased during the early days of August.
From a local campus perspective, colleges have been faced with the reality of trying to curtail athlete outbreaks in a non-bubble setting, while bracing for the return of the full student body overall. Then there have been individual athlete accounts about lingering effects of the virus which have included heart issues, the mass player movements within conferences that take into account their health concerns, and dozens of players opting out of the season.
This is not what many Tiger fans have hoped for but it is the sad reality that has become the “new norm” across the world as has been seen the last few weeks alone with the postponement of baseball games in MLB.
Another question that comes up is how much difference will there be trying to play in the spring? It was said that there would be a decrease during the summer and there has not been any slowing of the virus during that time period either. Covid-19 appears to be here to stay and the vaccine seems to be getting further and further away (2022 to 2023 currently).