I have gone from adamant there was no chance the NCAA Tournament would be canceled to pretty fearful 2020 could be a year with no college football in a matter of weeks. And that is a thought which sends me to a very dark place.
But athletic directors across the country are going to do everything in their power to make sure college football gets played this season, because without it, the immediate future of collegiate athletics is in grave danger. Take LSU for instance, whose entire athletic department is funded by the profits made by football.
And that's the case for one of the few athletic departments in the country that actually makes money. Most schools outside the Power Five just hope to make enough money from football to minimize their losses. So everyone wants football to be played.
And it sounds like every conceivable option is on the table. One which seems to have gained some stream among athletic directors is the idea of a season that has to start later, but is split between the fall and spring semesters — meaning there could be a College Football Playoff in May.
Stadium — One Power Five athletic director asked if schools can’t begin in-person practices until late August or September, when would the season be able to begin? October or later?
“If we have to delay the start of the season, we could split it between two semesters,” a Power Five AD said. “Some bowls may not occur because of this, but we could play a full season, a majority of the bowls and the playoffs.
“Look, we are doing all types of contingency planning, even if these hypothetical scenarios never come close to happening. The biggest issue is (a start date) is a moving target.”
Yes. Fine. I'm all for whatever gives us some semblance of a real regular season of college football. I'm not exactly sure what splitting it between two semesters accomplishes if it's still starting in the fall, but whatever. Just play the games.
Another plan could include having just football players on campus and playing a conference-only season in empty stadiums.
This is easily the most polarizing — and controversial — option. Several ADs believe it could happen under the right circumstances, while several others say there’s absolutely no way it could.
In this scenario, the student-athletes — only if cleared by health and safety officials — would be allowed on campus to take online classes and, yes, compete in athletics. They could be tested daily to guarantee they don’t have the virus (if we’re still at that point) and would play their games in empty stadiums.
“We’ve actually had discussions about this possibility,” a Power Five AD said.
Again, let's do it. Just please play college football. Brett McMurphy added a great idea of playing games every day of the week in this scenario instead of having them all on Saturday, since there's no need to schedule for fans to attend the games. Two SEC football games every night? The ratings would be unbelievable.
In a survey of 112 of the 130 FBS athletic directors conducted by Stadium, on a scale from 1-10 the lowest response by any AD on their confidence there is a college football season was a five, with 76 percent of them responding seven or higher.
I just need college football to be ok. I've become increasingly pessimistic in the last week or so about the future of any sport in this calendar year, but at least we know the power brokers are really putting everything on the table to have a college football season. Let's hope it comes to fruition.