In this unprecedented time for college sports, we’ll work on some of the key questions. Can a spring football season really happen?
Can a spring football season in 2021 happen?
My first reaction was, “absolutely not.”
The logistics are a nightmare, there’s no real point, and the idea of playing in the spring seemed like nothing more than blather by the Big Ten and other leagues to cushion the blow of – let’s call it what it is – cancelling the 2020 fall football season.
But semantics do matter here. Instead of using the word cancel, postpone is more to the point, considering the idea will be for the spring of 2021 to serve as the 2020 fall campaign.
If there’s money to be recouped from a spring session, college football will find a way to play.
Can it really happen?
Jeff Brohm seems to think so
The Purdue head coach – along with all but killing the exact column I was doing – came up with a very detailed, very interesting idea on how to structurally play in the spring. He’s not alone, with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, among others, claiming that it’s possible.
At the very least, it’s a jumping off point for a sport that wasn’t exactly proactive in its planning for what could happen if the virus didn’t go away in time to have a fall season.
The coaches are going to want this. A football coach without a football season is about as useful as a remote control without batteries. If there’s a shot to play football, coaches will sell it.
Oh yeah, that virus thing
If this all starts up in late January or early February, that means teams will need to be ready to start practicing for real in mid-December – that’s four months away from right now.
There’s not going to be a working vaccine available, but the real hope is for better, faster, and more reliable testing – which was the hope back in mid-March, too.
It’s essentially what the Pac-12 said in its guide as part of the rationale for halting fall sports, specifically football.
“Testing capacity needs to increase to allow for more frequent testing, performed closer to game time, and with more rapid turn-around time to prevent spread of infection and enhance the safety of all student-athletes, coaches, and staff involved, particularly in situations where physical distancing and mask wearing cannot be maintained. This will require access to significant capacity of point-of-care testing and rapid turn-around time, which is currently very limited.”
This is it. This is everything.
For all the planning, all the bickering, and all the different opinions across the various social media platforms, a spring football season in 2021 – and, not to get into this yet, but a 2021 fall campaign, too – isn’t going to happen at anything close to normal, if at all, without a way to be almost certain that everyone on the field is fine.
So let’s say that around December 10ish we have a solid set of national protocols that all the colleges and conferences are cool with.