A JERSEY GUY:   CFB leadership lacking unity

Mark Blaudschun

There is a marvelous scene in the Paul Newman movie called  "Cool Hand Luke'', where Strother Martin, playing the role of a Prison captain, addresses the convicts, including Newman, about a problem he has noticed.

"What we have here,'' says Martin, ""is a failure to communicate.''

What we have in the pandemic COVID-19 world of FBS football among the conferences is either a failure to communicate what should be at a joint announcement, or at the very least of letting their brethren know what decisions have to be made.

I've been covering major college football for 38 seasons and it has always been a 5 commissioner five cab (or now 5 commissioner, 5 limousine mentality).

The Big Ten is going to do what's best for the Big Ten, while the SEC and ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 are going to do what's in their best interest.

There is nothing wrong with that.

Even with the arrival of the BCS and now the CFB Playoffs, there are different guidelines for the way the conferences run their seasons, decide their champions.

Different conferences, different goals, different schedules, different priorities.

COVID-19 has changed the dynamics. There is total unity on the ultimate goal: making college football work in the fall of 2020 as safely as possible.

And I will give the Power 5 commissioners their due.

 They have had constant zoom calls, meetings during the course of the summer, bouncing strategy ideas off each other.

But commissioners will be commissioners.

A few weeks ago, the Power 5 guys finished up a call on a Sunday, with a consensus opinion that there was really no news news.

A day later, without any heads up to his conference brethren, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren announced that his conference would play a "conference opponent'' schedule.

The Pac-12 and commissioner Larry Scott, which has been a Big Ten pilot fish for years because of the joint connection to the Rose Bowl, quickly made a similar announcement.

Both conferences suggested that starting in mid to late September  would be appropriate.

Not a deal breaker, but interesting as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, ACC commissioner John Swofford and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby absorbed the news.

Life goes on as the debate about when to start the season (scheduled for the first week in September) increased.

Fast forward the time line to this week. SEC and ACC are having meetings to decide their best option.

Sankey wants more time and more byes as wiggle room, so later, rather than earlier option is the leader in the club house. Increasing from 8 to 10 conference games and pushing back SEC title game a few weeks strong option.

ACC also wants more conference games, but wants even more time, so it announces (without telling anyone) it will start on time (week of Sept 7) with a 10 plus one plan.

It is also working on an long time offer to get Notre Dame as a full sharing member in football.

ACC announces its decision on Wednesday. SEC not happy about lack of heads up on the earlier start.

SEC announces it will play 10 game (no Plus One) schedule.

Wiped off the books such strong in-state rivals as  South Carolina AT Clemson, Kentucky AT Louisville, Florida AT Florida State.

Now if all of those games had been played at SEC schools, would the SEC have a 10 plus ZERO plan?

Just wondering.

No matter what happens, there is a consensus opinion among CFB leaders that we are in one of the most contentious periods in the past 20 years among the commissioners

There is a clear caste system in place, and every conference is making its own deal with little regard to keeping other conferences in the loop on even the biggest  issues.

Sitting outside this room are the Group of  5 commissioners who must fend for themselves without much non conference help from the Power 5.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said he is waiting for the Big 12 to make its final call, before announcing any definitive plan.

But Aresco says he has one plan in place. ""We are telling our schools to commit to 8 conference games,'' he said. "And after that, they can fill in the blanks with as many as four non conference games if they want.''

The cap on all of this is that almost no one really thinks that this season can actually happen because all of the unknowns still ahead.

The story floating around CFB these days is that Notre Dame's ACC partnership in football this season is really like a Frank Capra movie dream sequence with the following conversation taking place on Christmas morning.

"Notre Dame as a football member of the ACC,?'' "You must be dreaming. That never happened.''

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Mark Blaudschun

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