A JERSEY GUY:  Why CFB Won't Work This Fall

Mark Blaudschun

One of former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese's favorite expressions is "unintended consequences''.

Welcome to the world of College Football 2020 in the summer of 2020.

We have a list of "unintended consequences'' which will slow down or stop college football next month.

But before we get into those issues, we want to continue with the optimistic idea of actually playing games and giving you some enticements the conferences and television networks should be working on right now.

Right now (pending announcements by the Big Ten and Big 12) the Atlantic Coast Conference is scheduled to be the first Power 5 conference starting, kicking off its season on Labor Day night, Sept. 7.

The original ACC plan didn't have any blockbuster match ups scheduled for that weekend in its 8 game conference.

That was before COVID-19 changed all of that and the ACC came up with a 10 conference, plus one (non conference) format, starting the week of Sept. 7-12, which probably means Monday, Thursday or/and Friday and Saturday games.

With the addition of Notre Dame as a full time member this season, the ACC has two marquee attractions, Notre Dame and Clemson.

Those two teams were originally scheduled to meet in South Bend on November 7th.

Notre Dame is still scheduled to play Navy in Annapolis on Sept. 5, but the ACC's new edict of allowing conference teams to only play their plus one game in their home state creates a problem

 Don't bet on either game being played as scheduled.

Here's what could happen.

How about a Labor Day night start of the season of Clemson at Notre Dame?

Or if that is a dish best served in early October, how about a new (for this season) ACC opponent for the Irish--North Carolina, which is now on the ND home schedule?

The reason for both of those early starts would be not only for tv ratings, but games that early in the season would allow the losing team in those games enough time to recover and make a post season run.

As for Navy-ND, the Navy is not happy by giving up the Irish's first appearance in Annapolis for a game in South Bend.

How about this as a television snack for Navy? 

  Labor Day Night: Navy at Notre Dame, which would be a for now) an exclusive and ratings bonanza bounty?

There are other possibilities churning, such as the ACC, which is having some difficulty in putting together Plus one non conference games for its teams since the SEC cancelled some traditional rival (Georgia-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina, Florida-Florida State.

One idea being suggested is for the ACC to switch back to simple 10 game All ACC schedule.

The Big 12 is flirting with a 9 game conference only schedule, or a 9 plus one, or even a nine plus three, which is similar to the AAC's 8 plus as many games as you can schedule plan.

Those plans should clarify by the middle of next week.

Having said all of this, here are some reasons why even starting the season might be difficult or at the very least muted.

COVID-19 spiking on campuses.

With many schools scheduled to have students return to campus later this month, a wide spread two-week quarantine period as part of protocol.

"Yeah, that's going to work,'' said one football coach. "Kids back on campus two weeks before they start of classes. What do you think they will do? And what of the odds of my guys not being part of that?"

We've already seen campuses getting shut down because of outbreaks of COVID-positive tests in campus fraternity houses.

What happens if entire dorms become infected after a party?

And even if a coach can keep his players from social activities, how does he stop a player from getting a burger at a fast food place, where he runs into a classmate who has been to a party.

One contact and the entire athletic dorms become infected?\

Good luck with that, which is why an August numbers spike could produce an immediate CFB shutdown.

Talent level drain.

Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley became the highest profile college football player to announce he was sitting out this season to prepare for the NFL draft and avoid the dangers of COVID campus life.

Look for a domino effect of All American players ranging from Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State QB Justin Field to Clemson RB Travis Etienne or FSU DT tackle Marvin Wilson to join the "we will not play'' parade.

Too much at risk for high profile NFL projected high level draft picks, too dangerous for parents to put their children in harm's way.

Which means even if players do play, the quality of football will suffer, which will not please the television networks handing out the checks.

Another unintended consequence which sadly means that college football's chances of even reaching Labor Day weekend seem remote at best.

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Mark Blaudschun

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