Athletic directors have little time to waste if there’s going to be 2020 college football season. Everything has to be on the table to make this happen.
Daily Cavalcade: Can There Be A 2020 College Football Season?
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
1. I’m built for this quarantine and staying at home thing. I could do six months standing on my head.
2. If you’re angry at any aspect of this, remember, no one wants or needs a full 2020 college football season more than I do.
Really, there will be sports again. For now … just stay safe, and hope for ESPN to put out The Last Dance 30 or 30 on the Bulls as soon as humanly possible.
You have four months, college athletic directors.
Obviously, everything around the coronavirus nightmare is more important than whether or not a dumb college football game is played in late August, and of course the horrors and issues that so many are experiencing and dealing with are truly all that matter.
Our temporary reality is just getting started, but as we speak, college athletic directors are trying to do their jobs for their respective schools.
They’re trying to figure out whether or not there can, will, and should be a college football season in 2020, and they have just four months to get there.
It’s late March, and to have any sort of a working college football season to keep with the schedule as it’s currently created – supposedly kicking off on Saturday, August 29th – there has to be at least a full month for the machine to get going.
I know, I know, you’re thinking, “chill … that’s four FREAKING months away,” but considering the Tokyo Olympics have about as much chance of starting on July 24th as Jamal Murray has of reversing time and not hitting POST on his Instagram account, the sports world is already knee-deep into planning ahead for late-July and early August.
By August 1st – at the latest – college football training camps, practices, and facilities have to be up and going, especially considering there’s not going to be spring ball. However, it’s delusional for athletic directors to not at least prepare their budgets and plans just in case things don’t go off like normal this fall.
So for now, let’s just ignore the potential that it all gets shut down for the 2020 season.
What do all the athletic directors have to be figuring out, and what possibilities are out there to give us college football again?
First things first, there is no football of any sort this year without …
1. Testing, testing, testing.
Let’s all hope and pray that the cure is coming tomorrow – and hopefully it’s some easy and awesome combination of crispy bacon and watching Blue Chips four times in a row – but even the most optimistic experts are saying it’ll be at least 12-to-18 months before one might be available, much less for mass distribution.
It’s out of the hands of the athletic directors, but until there’s a cure, by mid-July there has to be a way for every player and coach to be tested – and with quick results – to even think about starting up practices, much less getting the season going on time.
If just one player in a collision sport like this is infected, the results could be disastrous.
That’s just for the guys on the field. Athletic directors, you’re not going to like this – none of us will – but …
2. Plan on the likelihood of a season with no fans in the stands.
If we’re not all completely and totally out of the woods by this summer, liability-wise, how can schools allow fans into the stadiums without testing every one of them before they enter?
Again, we’re almost certainly not going to have a vaccine for everyone by late August – if there is one – so even if the curve is flattened, thousands of people cramming together in stadiums all across the nation six months from now might still be a no-go.
That’s how a small-bump curve turns into Kilimanjaro in a hiccup.
And even if college football is going again and fans are allowed to attend, 1) attendance was already an issue before this, 2) have fun trying to get thousands of people to want to be around thousands of other people, and 3) good luck finding enough fans with any disposable income left.
Throw in the need for all the resources to gear up a major college football game – especially if our medical system is battling in any way after what’s predicted to come over the next few months – and the logistics of having fans show up are going to be tough.
Considering how financially disastrous it might be for most athletic departments to have no fans in the stands …
3. In case of emergency, maybe break or push off the deals for the non-conference games.
Let’s start exploring the nuclear options.
If needed, buy yourself some time, athletic directors.
Some schools cancelled non-conference games over the years because of hurricane and weather issues – same thing here.
The whole point of the cupcake games against the FCSers – and for most Power Five vs. Group of Five matchups – is to make the home team a lot of money off of the attendance in an easy win. If those fans aren’t there, the dynamic changes.
The TV revenue is still a part of the puzzle, but if schools are trying to figure out some way to have a 2020 season, limiting it to conference play gives everyone more room – like maybe starting the season in October with an eight-or-nine game slate.
And if it’s not okay in August, maybe it’ll be all clear for fans to show up again deeper into the fall.
Or, if the season really has to be pushed back …
4. If absolutely needed, blow off the bowl season outside of the New Year’s Six and College Football Playoff.
At absolute best, athletic departments break even going to bowls, and they usually lose money.
Again, it might be all about buying time and exploring every option.
If it’s not possible to have a season start up as normal in late August, what about starting several weeks later and extending the season through mid-to-late December?
It’s not ideal, and no one wants that – especially ESPN – but depending on what happens over the next few months, some season would be better than no season.
And if everything else fails and things get brutally ugly for the bottom line …
5. Have a plan in place for postponing most non-revenue sports this fall and for Spring 2021.
It would be devastating if it comes to this, and it would be an impossible sell for most athletic directors, but they have to be ready for everything.
Use the tired hope-for-the-best-prepare-for-the-worst cliché that’s on the motivational poster next to “Hang In There,” with the picture of a cat in a tree.
Most non-revenue sports cost pennies compared to the monster revenue-generators, and the Title IX aspect will come into play, but athletic departments will be crushed if they’re crossing their fingers and banking on a revenue stream that doesn’t come from packed football stadiums.
And now, to take this thing totally off the rails …
6. Ice Cube?
I’ve had an idea for the NBA from the moment the season hit the pause button.
Why can’t a multi-billion dollar company like the NBA – with its multi-billionaire owners – figure out how to test and then quarantine the 20 or so necessary parts of a team, keep them away from other humans for a few months – in the name of the league and the morale of a nation – and then televise their games in an empty and sanitized-as-possible gym?
Of course, the players wouldn’t go for it, the isolation aspect wouldn’t fly, and they’d all have to be tested every other day. There are still way too many logistical issues to work through to make it all happen on a major scale.
Okay, college athletic directors. Is there any way to apply any of this for college football?
The overall model has no shot – there are WAY too many players, coaches, and trainers who’d have to be quarantined – but if you really want a college football season, there are parts that might work.
It’s the dream of every coach to have their players on lockdown for a few months, but if there are quick and easy tests, that might not be as much of an issue.
The travel and hotel aspect would also be a concern, along with remembering that these guys are all college students, too. Taking all the classes on-line – unless you have to – isn’t the college experience, but it’s possible.
Athletic directors, put everything on the table.
Don’t get caught flat-footed like the NCAA did with its big basketball tournament, and don’t be like the NBA and pull players off the floor at the last minute.
As long as it’s safe, and as long as we’re in a good enough position overall that it’s okay, we all want a college football season. Now it’s up to you to come up with Plans A, B, C and Q, and contingency plan after contingency plan, to try making it happen.
You have four months.