The future plans for college football in the ACC, Big 12 and the SEC will be made the last week of July as the three “Power 5,” conferences deal with the tough questions that remain a mystery. This is a huge risk vs. reward situation that the major conferences are looking at as they stare down the July deadline.
While, fans, alumni, broadcast partners, and everyone involved college football look to the fall the spread of COVID 19 is everywhere. None of the conferences nor the NCAA have offered up a real set of guidelines to help figure out how best to handle a season as no one has ever seen.
The roadblocks are many starting with teams that have 80 to 100 players and social distancing as well as the wearing of masks is impossible. There is no bubble like the NBA, NHL, and MLS has created so that travel is not a problem and containment isn’t an issue.
Not even if they choose to follow the lead of the Big Ten and Pac12 by playing only conference opponents that still require a great deal of travel with the possibility of getting or spreading the virus.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the recent spike in coronavirus cases in the league’s region were unsettling, and he told ESPN’s Paul Finebaum “we have to see a change in public health trend to build the comfort that we’ll have an opportunity to compete this fall.
The Big 12 will continue to assess COVID-19 developments before making a call on the fall sports season, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Dallas Morning News.
”I believe it’s too early to be making those decisions,” Bowlsby said following a Tuesday meeting of conference athletic directors. “Frankly, we haven’t been advised to do that by our scientists and medical advisors. We’ve been advised to move forward slowly and constantly re-evaluate and that’s what we’ll keep doing until we’ve told it’s inadvisable.”
Bowlsby concluded his remarks by saying: “We’re going to have to be patient and continue to read the tea leaves and see what the next two or three or four weeks bring us. If things get worse, that will inform one set of decisions. If things get better, that will inform another set of decisions.”
As far as the ACC is concerned Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement July 10 that the conference will continue to review multiple scenarios for the upcoming season.
“The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July,” Swofford said.
A wildcard here is Notre Dame because they are independent and they are required to play at least six games in the ACC. As we know the Irish are a member of the conference in all other sports except for football.
At this point, the biggest game on the 2020 Notre Dame schedule is a September 7th showdown with Clemson. The Irish are also slated to play ACC members Wake Forest, Duke, Pitt, Georgia Tech, and Louisville.
They will not face Pac12 rivals USC and Stanford who have long been a part of the Notre Dame schedule for decades. They will also miss a big game on the road against Wisconsin.
So, for now, the Irish could perhaps add games with FSU and or Miami from the ACC to spice things up and no doubt they will be making calls to BYU, Army, and UConn who also do not have any football conference ties to see if they can fill in some dates. We don’t yet know if the AAC is going to stay within the conference and if they did that would take Navy off the Irish schedule.
With just three weeks left before decision time comes there remain far more questions than answers. So, college football fans will continue to have to wait to see how or even if there will be a college football season.