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So where are we with college football?

Possibly on the brink of postponing the season.

Commissioners of the Power 5 conferences held an emergency meeting on Sunday, as there is growing concern among college athletics officials that the upcoming football season and other fall sports can’t be played because of the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.

No major decisions were made on Sunday night, but multiple sources in several Power 5 conferences have told ESPN the commissioners talked about trying to collaborate if their respective presidents do decide to cancel or postpone fall sports.

Several sources have indicated to ESPN that Big Ten presidents, following a meeting on Saturday, are ready to pull the plug on its fall sports season, and they wanted to gauge if commissioners and university presidents and chancellors from the other Power 5 conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — will fall in line with them.

Sources told ESPN that a vast majority of Big Ten presidents have indicated that they would vote to postpone football season, hopefully to the spring. A Big Ten official confirmed to ESPN that no official vote took place during Saturday’s meeting.

“It doesn’t look good,” one Power 5 athletic director said.

[…]

Several sources have told ESPN over the past 48 hours that the postponement or cancellation of the football season seems inevitable. Many of those sources believed it ultimately will take a Power 5 conference to move things in that direction and that either the Big Ten or Pac-12 would probably be the first league to do it.

“Nobody wanted to be the first to do it,” a Power 5 coach told ESPN, “and now nobody will want to be the last.”

A Power 5 administrator added: “It feels like no one wants to, but it’s reaching the point where someone is going to have to.”

As we know, all of the not-FBS conferences, as well as the MAC, have cancelled or postponed their fall sports. On Monday, the Mountain West Conference joined them. Today, the PAC 12 will have a meeting, and we’ll see what they decide. This could be the week when the plug gets pulled, which would mean spring football if everything is finally better by then.

Or maybe not. The University of Nebraska is considering its options in the event the Big 10 postpones its season. (As of last night, there were conflicting reports about the Big 10’s plans.) There is definitely support from some athletes and politicians for having a season, though as that story notes the reasons each group has for advocating its position are different. One possible outcome is some kind of massive realignment, maybe with a smaller number of schools playing, and/or a bunch of athletes moving to other schools to participate. I’m sure we’ll know more soon. But just remember, in a country where we had the political leadership to get COVID-19 under control, we’d be having a very different conversation right now.

UPDATE: Just noticed that Rice is pushing back the start of its season to September 26, with the intent to reschedule games against UH and Army that were originally planned for before that date. I guess that’s a baby step towards postponing till spring, but as of this writing Conference USA and the AAC were still on for the fall.

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5 Comments

  1. Greg Wythe says:

    Looks like there’s a secondary issue affecting the decision on football (and maybe more fall sports): https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/29633697/heart-condition-linked-covid-19-fuels-power-5-concern-season-viability

  2. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    I still think that some conferences will attempt to start anyway. No one will finish the season though.

  3. C.L. says:

    Maybe college athletes could use this ‘off season’ to (actually) attend classes and engage in some higher learning…you know, work towards a degree instead.

  4. Flypusher says:

    Sally Jenkins at WaPo lists the questions college presidents who are doing g their jobs are grappling with:

    “ Do you divert limited testing resources to football players, when you can’t regularly test and protect their fellow students the same way?

    What are the mathematical odds that a contact sport among universities with large undergrad populations — like Ohio State’s 46,000 — can be played without people getting exposed and carrying the infection back to another campus?

    Do you give football players safety bubbles and other protocols not available to others?

    Do you quarantine them after every trip?

    What will infection rates look like in communal living?

    What’s the capacity of the university’s health system and how quickly might it be overrun if there’s an outbreak?

    What to tell aged professors who are high-risk and don’t want to teach athletes who might expose them?

    Will football watch-parties tempt students to gather in large groups and disregard distancing and masking?

    Are you prepared to deal with athletes who develop cardiac issues — studies show that as many as 20 percent of those who recover from covid-19 show heart abnormalities— and do you have medical resources to manage regular electrocardiograms, heart ultrasounds and MRIs to monitor for myocarditis and prevent more serious complications?”

    The NBA is one of the few sports that may be able to pull off a season, as the logistics of bubbling are less complicated. I do not expect MLB to finish (with the lack of self discipline among the players being a major contributing factor). I don’t think the NFL can pull it off either. I’m hoping the other college divisions read the writing on the wall and prioritize teaching (if in-person classes are even feasible). I love going to the local college ballgames, but they should be set aside for health and safety this year.

    Of course, we haven’t even touched on HS sports yet.

  5. […] here for the background. Here’s the official statement from the Big 10. Something I noticed after […]