Conference Leaders Speak of Uncertainty in College Sports
Hondo S. Carpenter
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the American way of life in 2020. It also may change college football forever.
Football may be leaving the fall for the spring, one Big Ten athletic director told Sports Illustrated’s Spartan Nation.
“I think the Big Ten and the PAC-12 are in agreement here,” the athletic director said. “I think we are at least leaning towards playing football in the spring. It is pretty well believed the ACC and the SEC want to play in the fall and the Big 12 is in the middle. I guess it is like America, we are as divided as a nation politically as we are about football.”
The Big Ten already announced a reduced schedule for the 2020 season, eliminating the non-conference games. But that’s a big if – if there is even a season to be played this fall.
“College football as we know it and are used to it, will not happen this year,” the AD said.
Spartan Nation also learned that earlier today, the PAC-12 athletic directors and presidents had teleconference for what they are calling, “C.E.O.’s to discuss the future of football and fall sports.”
After the call, President’s voted privately. And it is anticipated by those in the conference office that there should be an announcement as early as this weekend or as late as next week that the PAC-12 will also play a conference only schedule. The sources in the conference office, could not confirm the result of the vote. “I totally anticipate and expect them to vote to play only a conference regular season. I am just not on the call to confirm.
“This was scheduled before the Ivy League canceled competition,” the source said, “We’ve got to take a long hard look.”
The ramifications of a potential spring football season would be enormous.
A postseason can’t be contested if the conferences can’t come up with an agreement. Can you have a true national champion if the teams play in different semesters? Can an SEC or ACC team playing in the fall win a national championship if the other three Power-5 conferences are playing in the spring?
One ACC athletic director told Spartan Nation, “I think ideally we play in the fall, I don’t get how you have basketball and football simultaneously. That isn’t something that is workable, but these are unprecedented times.”
We spoke to one Big Ten football coach about moving the season to the fall. He was in favor of that, but not for safety reasons.
“If you are Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, or even Penn State, you don’t want that,” he said. “You have a ton of players that, if the season gets moved to the spring, they won’t play. They will be on their way to the NFL.
“Spring football certainly levels the playing field. Those schools could lose as many as ten players and the new recruits won’t be on campus. The Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan State schools won’t have anyone, or maybe one leave. Spring football makes the most sense, but the most talented schools won’t like it, and it will hurt them.”
No matter what happened today on the PAC-12 call, one thing is certain -- uncertainty. What is going to happen, and how is it going to happen? It’s all in the details.
“Right now the NCAA is proving its lack of value as we struggle to put this all together,” one PAC 12 athletic director said. “I think financially, they would be better off protecting basketball. That is their moneymaker, but football drives college sports. We need to think about people. If anything is coming out of this, it is how inept the NCAA is.”
Earlier this week, a Big Ten athletic director who spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Spartan Nation forecasted the 2020 college football season in a very bleak way:
Sports, as we know, it is changing right before our eyes. In my two decades of covering sports, I have never seen such uncertainty among the administrators, the coaches, and players today.
Yesterday the Big Ten announced that “If the Conference is able to participate in fall sports based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports.”
So the relevant question is if college football will not happen as we know it and are used to it, what will it look like?
A Big Ten Athletic Director told Spartan Nation, “I think the Big Ten and the PAC-12 are in agreement here. I think we are at least leaning towards playing football in the spring. It is pretty well believed the A.C.C. and S.E.C. want to play in the fall and the Big 12 is in the middle. I guess it is like America, we are as divided as a nation politically as we are about football.”
The ramifications are enormous.