FAYETTEVILLE — It seems that each day now someone is canceling a game or something due to the threat of COVID-19.
On Thursday the Big Ten opted to go to an all-conference format for all fall sports including football. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Ivy League ruled out playing all sports this fall. The ACC also on Thursday announced it has delayed the start of all fall sports until Sept. 1 with the exception of football. The ruling apparently won’t affect football.
The NCAA also released a statement on Wednesday showing support for the conferences and schools making hard decisions concerning football and sports.
The Big Ten also acknowledged the possibility of no season with a statement in its release.
“As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate.”
According to various reports, the ACC is also considering a conference-only schedule. It’s important from a financial standpoint for the conferences to at least play a conference-only schedule.
The schools’ plan to keep conference-only games is in large part likely motivated by the desire to preserve revenue from television deals. Every major conference has its own television network, along with rights deals with networks to broadcast their games which equal big bucks for schools.
Greg Sankey and the SEC are still trying to wait as long as possible before making any decision on the direction it plans for football and fall sports. According to various reports, Sankey obviously is holding out hope a full football schedule can be played and started on time.
That may or may not be a realistic hope at this time given all the decisions being made around the country. Various schools are reporting different experiences with athletes, coaching staffs and athletic department members testing positive for COVID-19. Notre Dame has reportedly had just one positive test among the 252 administered to its players and athletic department members according to Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune. According to sources, Arkansas has had seven football players test positive and one assistant coach. Arkansas is scheduled to face Notre Dame on Saturday, Sept. 12, though that game is very much in the air right now.
College football is currently slated to start on Saturday, Aug. 29, with a half dozen non-conference games around the country. Arkansas is scheduled to open on Saturday, Sept. 5, in Reynolds Razorback Stadium with Nevada coming to Fayetteville.
Sankey is reportedly considering as many as 20 options for the football season. While various conferences have made some decisions and others may be closing in on one the SEC remains somewhat patient. Most sources indicate the SEC could be more of a leader in its decision making than a follower. In other words, the decisions by other conferences may not impact the SEC as much as it could maybe another league.
While many have suggested spring football don’t look for that to happen if there’s any way around it. Why? Because the chances of the stars on teams who are likely to get drafted would probably opt out of spring football for colleges. They aren’t gonna play a spring football season then head to an NFL team in the fall. The idea of playing 30-35 games in a year for a football player probably has agents looking for an Ambien or something. Several players opt out of bowl games to prepare for the NFL, does anyone really think players are going to play 12-15 games in the spring if they are going to be in the NFL in the fall? Some would, but many wouldn’t.
Some tough decisions have been made regardless college football this fall and many more are coming.