We read the tea leaves and attempt to predict how the pandemic will ultimately alter the 2020 college football season.
1. The regular season will start and end reasonably on time.
Hospitalizations are plummeting nationwide, and all 50 states are now in some process of reopening. And there's still 102 days until the Thursday before Labor Day (the traditional start date for Week 1 of the FBS regular season). Given that trend line, in the end the powers-that-be will determine the most logical way to avoid a financial Armageddon by playing the season, is to play it in pretty much the same window it's always played.
2. They won't play in front of empty stadiums all season.
The highest-variance factor this season will be with attendance. Look for typically warmer climate states to be far more lenient about how many are allowed into their games, compared to what we're likely to see within the Big Ten footprint. Nevertheless, Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith is already talking about having tens of thousands of fans in the stands at the Horseshoe, albeit still well below its capacity. We're going to see plenty of empty seats, but we're not going to see empty stadiums all season.
3. Several non-conference games will either be cancelled, or rescheduled.
The clock is probably ticking on Michigan's trip out west to Washington and the Buckeyes' doing the same to face Oregon. Reports are Alabama is already looking at a local replacement like TCU for USC in its Week 1 kickoff classic at Jerry World. Expect the month of June to be filled with numerous reports of cancelled or rescheduled non-conference games. For example, I expect Michigan to replace Washington and Arkansas State with instate MAC opponents. The unique challenge of this season could also finally call the question as to why we're still scheduling 10 years out for college football?
4. At least 10 bowl games will be cancelled.
I think the playoffs and New Year's Six games will all be played. I also think trips that are seen as rewards like to Las Vegas, San Antonio, Honolulu, and Orlando will also be played. However, between the costs and the concerns, I think bowl games in Detroit, Boise, Boston, and New York City will not be. Ditto for several of those games that pit mid-major conferences against each other. Or a foreign trip like the Bahamas Bowl.
5. The tradition of the weekly in-person coaches press conference comes to an end, and will be replaced by Zoom calls for the foreseeable future.
Most coaches hate these anyway, if we're being honest, and I think you're going to see most media platforms having their employees still working from home as it is. So these will happen, just not in-person, and perhaps they never will again given the time and expense plus technology available.
What are your thoughts on these predictions? Let us know in the comments.