For all the talk about the college football season possibly coming together in 2020 … how? Is there even a real plan to get this going? Pete Fiutak goes on a rant in the CFN Podcast.
Is There Going To Be A College Football Season?… HOW?
Okay, college football people, conference commissioners, athletic directors, networks and business types who are all semi-publicly and privately saying there’s going to be a 2020 college football season …
CFN Podcast: Will There Be A Season? HOW?
That’s absolutely fantastic. All of the words being written and all the podcasts being done with various highly-placed sources sound hopeful, but one little question …
Seriously, tell us all the exact plan of attack, because so far no one seems to have one.
A few days ago my watch got pinged for a Breaking News type of alert from some major web site highlighting a long-form, in-depth piece with inside interviews with high-end big-wigs giving all of these fantastic talking points.
There wasn’t one word about testing.
You can play the games, but if one player who was on the field tests positive, that’s it. Game over. It’s all shut down, we’re all worried about the other players, and we’re all freaking the freak out about that 64-year-old offensive line coach who social distanced himself from vegetables for the last 40 years.
But before my ranting whine-fest continues, three ground rules.
1. No politics here. I don’t care about whatever side of the bread you actively choose to butter. When it comes to whether or not there’s going to be a college football season, the political world doesn’t matter …
From a perception and normalcy standpoint, it’ll be a really, really big deal to the campaigns on both sides if there is or isn’t football in September and October leading up to the November election.
Also, the politics of specific regions might play a massive role. It’ll be tough to have a Pac-12 season with California likely to put the kibosh on any sporting event unless it’s deemed 100% safe.
Schools in the Big 12 and SEC states might have an easier time depending on the political leanings of the respective governing bodies.
2. Professionally and personally, no one – I repeat, NO ONE – wants and needs college football more than I do. If I’m sounding grouchy here, it’s because I’m mad that the in-charge types are blowing off what’s possible in an attempt to be perfect.
3. I actually am positive about all of this. I’ve said from the start that I honestly believe it’s possible to have a college football season played safely in some way. We all might like the game aspect of college football, but this is financial life or death for many athletic departments – necessity might just make this happen.
This can be done, but that means we have to deal with reality. It starts with one basic premise that athletic directors and conference commissioners have to get drilled into their respective heads immediately.
Nothing has changed since sports were shut down in mid-March, and nothing in the next year or so will be all that different, either.
We’re not going to have a vaccine before the end of 2020. This is it. The virus hasn’t left over the last six weeks, and we’re all going to have to live with it – or not – in some way for a long, long while.
You might believe things should open back up again immediately – everyone has to die of something – but from a liability and practical standpoint, college athletics can’t just go back to normal with a Hope For The Best plan.
You might believe that everyone should stay locked down and not come within 100 feet of another person, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to figure out how to safely and effectively do certain things.
However, just putting some timeline on when college football will be back before there’s a cure or vaccine is ridiculous.
You can say that there’s a plan to do a college football season of some sort by the end of 2020, or you can say that you’re thinking of creating a season that starts in February of 2021, or you could say you want a gazillion bajillion dollars delivered to your front door by Kim Kardashian dressed in whipped cream.
It’s all fantasy hoo-ha.
College football teams can’t even have a team meeting right now, much less hold a practice, much less have a game.
Commissioners and ADs, you have to start living in the land of the real and possible. That means you have to come to grips with something that the rest of us can’t.
This ALL really, really, really sucks.
Don’t plan on regular students going back to college campuses in 2020.
It might be possible to figure out how to conduct socially-distant classes and make other aspects of college life safe, but one house party later … uh-oh. Thanks for playing.
But you don’t need college kids on campus, anyway. Even if the students return like normal, to have a football season, the players can’t mingle with the rest of the population and will need to take their classes remotely.
For this to work, the same ideas from several weeks ago still apply. Here’s what everyone has to have an answer for.
– Testing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, testing for this thing in this country has been the all-time textbook definition of an epic fail, but there are no sports – college or pro – unless everyone who’s on that field is tested and determined to be virus-free. And then …
– Quarantine and isolate in a jock dorm. Make one athletic dorm available for just the football team – we’ll deal with the other sports and the logistics of Title IX another time – but the players and coaches all have to live in one dorm on campus, and that’s it. They can go there, to the practice facility, and to the games. But …
– A rule needs to be in place that a player can opt-out and not lose his scholarship. If a guy doesn’t want to do this for whatever reason, it’s fine. He can’t be threatened if for whatever reason he doesn’t want to be locked down for three months or more.
– Travel. Right now, look in the sky. Keep looking. Keep looking. You see all those planes whizzing by? No? This one is easy – airlines have nothing to do. They can sanitize their unused planes and make them safe for team travel.
Every airline would bend over backwards right now for the business.
– Hotels and away games. I have a friend high-up in the business for one of the major chains. They’re right now in the process of coming up with new and efficient ways to assure that every room is totally sanitized and virus-free once everything opens back up. Hosting a football team full of players, coaches and trainers who have tested negative in an empty hotel shouldn’t be a problem.
Every hotel would bend over backwards right now for the business.
And then there’s the part that everyone has to let go of right now, and not a second longer.
There’s no way there can be fans in stands for sporting events.
Temperature check? Seriously, everyone, learn what the word asymptomatic means.
Six feet of distance between people wearing masks? Yeah, three words – Blue Angels, Thunderbirds.
As soon as those things started flying around major cities honoring the health care workers, what did people do? They crowded around each other to look up and see the fly-by.
I live across the street from a golf course and a hospital. As I’m writing this, three guys on the 5th hole green at the country club are all but hugging each other they’re so close, all while there’s a giant Heroes Work Here sign up across the fence.
Schools and athletic departments can’t handle a swarm of tens of thousands of people coming to their stadiums no matter how much everyone might try to be safe.
Worst of all, almost all college-town hospitals aren’t even remotely equipped to handle a surge of sick patients. Again, this goes back to why colleges probably won’t open back up for the regular student population this fall, and why the idea of 50,000+ local people in one spot might be a virus spreading problem on steroids.
Again, it ALL really, really, really sucks.
Schools and athletic departments, I know everyone needs the ticket revenue, but take the TV money, get what you can get, and literally buy some time to figure out 2021.
Oh yeah, but players and coaches, you need to be ready.
It’s been suggested it would take two months to get a college football team going for a season. Yeah, coaches … be prepared that if there appears to be a window that might work, you might have a few weeks.
Everyone else, be prepared for there to be a season that looks absolutely nothing like anything we’ve ever seen before, and also be prepared for the possibility that it just might not happen.
However, we’ll have college football again. Even if it’s not in 2020, the sport will still survive, and we’ll love it all more than ever.
This country survived World War II, a civil war, a Spanish flu, a polio nightmare, the Dust Bowl, The Great Depression, and the Up With People halftime shows. We can make this happen.
Now it’s up to you, college commissioners and athletic directors. Don’t hope for a season, figure it out.
For any ideas on what you’d like to hear on future podcasts, hit me up @PeteFiutak.