The ACC, as well as the SEC and the Big 12, will likely decide their fates for the upcoming college football season this week.
With decision deadlines being delayed from June 15, to July 1, then July 15, and now to this week, the clock is officially ticking on how much time is left to further discuss the fall sports season. Especially with the scheduled start to college football kicking off in a little over a month.
Atlantic Coast Conference officials are reportedly scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss final decisions on a start date and model for the 2020 season.
Both the SEC and ACC have a teased a "late July" decision - and July ends on Friday. With football teams' camps set to begin next week, some form of scheduling agreement should be made among conferences.
“When this (pandemic) started, we said, ‘O.K., we’ve got four months to figure it out,’“ one FBS commissioner told Sports Illustrated. “Now we’ve got no months to figure out it. It’s all circular. We just go back and revisit and re-think it. Everyone is doing their part, but the answers are not easy.
“We’ve got 50 governors. We’ve got state and local health officials. We’ve got boards of trustees and university presidents. Below them we have athletic directors, who are between a rock and a hard spot. We are all trying to assess risk tolerance and his twin, liability.”
Currently, the Pac-12 and Big Ten are finalizing plans for conference-only seasons and pushed start dates.
There are several options on the table that the ACC is taking into consideration. However, the 10+1 schedule model (An 11-game schedule - 10 conference games and a ‘plus one’ against another Power Five school) seems most favorable. It would allow the four ACC teams to play their end-of-the-season non-conference rivalry games, such as Georgia Tech and Georgia.
If the ACC were to decide on the 'plus one' model, it could come with a huge stipulation: Notre Dame will be a part of that model for the 2020 campaign only, giving the football-independent Fighting Irish a full ACC schedule instead of its contractual agreement with the league.
The meeting of the ACC presidents on Wednesday comes on the heels of Michigan State and Rutgers, both Big 12 schools, mandating a team-wide quarantine for two weeks.
Risk-averse university administrators are critical about the liability they hold for not only staff members, but students as well. The health and welfare of student-athletes are at the forefront of these looming decisions.
As the NBA, MLB and NFL begin their return, perhaps it could provide some guidance. The key difference being, college football players are not paid, opening up a wealth of problems across a vast landscape in the sport that the ACC is attempting to navigate without a reliable compass.
Should a decision be made this week by the ACC, whether clear cut or not, at least it will provide some direction - and even hope - for the fate of the college football season.
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