Will There Be Sooner Football In 2020?

Parker Thune

The word from SI's Pat Forde this morning isn't what you would call encouraging.

In a year that's brought an absolute avalanche of bad news, the gut punch for college football fans across the nation could be on the horizon.


It's admittedly very hard to take this at face value without verging on nihilism. After all, it's been nearly five months since the sports world ground to an unprecedented halt and went into a virtual shutdown. By all accounts, this entire saga was supposed to be over by now. COVID-19 was supposed to have been ancient history by the time football season rolled around.

And yet here we are on Aug. 8, very much on the precipice of truly uncharted territory. Not since the MLB's 1994 strike has there been such an impactful stoppage of play across American sports. And let's be honest: 2020 transcends any comparison. This isn't a strike. This is a pandemic, and there's frankly no end in sight at the moment.

To offer conjecture here would be pointless. There is no shred of certainty as to what the coming days — or even the coming hours — will bring. But though it may be the harshest of realities, it's time to square up with the fact of the matter.

There may not be Sooner football in 2020.

The MAC announced today that they intend to postpone football until the spring. Several FCS conferences have done the same. Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel tweeted that the Big Ten could be close to issuing a similar ruling.

Let's recall that the Big Ten was first through the wall in cancelling its schools' nonconference games, a precedent that every other Power 5 conference eventually fell in line with.

None of this bodes well for the prospect of a football season this fall.

Lincoln Riley and the Sooner staff have done a tremendous job adapting to a changing environment and keeping the Sooners completely free of COVID-19. But they're the exception, not the rule. Oklahoma's near-flawless response to the virus simply hasn't been emulated or duplicated at other programs across the country, and even the most airtight plans can't account for the relentless machinations of the inhuman juggernaut that is COVID-19.

In an ideal world, the Big Ten presidents convene and decide to move forward with their conference-only plan, preserving some semblance of a path for Power 5 football to happen this fall. But how many times over the course of the year 2020 have we operated under the premise of "an ideal world," and how many times has the resulting scenario come to fruition?

We can continue to hope for the best. But it looks like it's come time to start preparing for the worst.

Turn your social media notifications on now, because today is shaping up to be another landmark day for college athletics.

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