Cut non-conference, trim season, start all teams on Sept. 26
More than anything, I would like to see uniformity across college football.
I don’t think it’s fair for the SEC or Pac-12 to be playing if the Big Ten or ACC is not.
James Franklin said the other day he’s seeking “NCAA guidance,” and we all should be. The organization that has provided either too little or too much supervision in the past now faces its most important leadership opportunity.
This is not one where, unlike our country, the onus can shift to the state governments.
Picture if part of Major League Baseball would begin playing a season and teams in more infected areas do not. Same with the NFL. Can the Arizona Cardinals play everybody at home while the New York Giants don’t play at all?
The answer is no.
Once experts determine it’s OK to safely play at all, an NCAA-mandated plan, while working with the conferences, must be established.
Here would be my suggested template:
n Eliminate the non-conference schedule and set opening day as Sept. 26.
n Run a nine-game conference season with one bye week and have the conference championships on the same date they’re scheduled now — Saturday, Dec. 5.
n Select a four-team College Football Playoff (Final Four) to be played on Saturday, Dec. 19 with the title game on Friday night, Jan. 1.
n Scrap the rest of the bowl field, at least for this year, while the nation recovers emotionally and financially. This won’t be a significant loss since it’s been exhausting for everybody, and there won’t be people, even family and friends, eager to travel to any of the non-playoff bowls, much less the Bad Boy Mowers Bowl.
I’m not ready to say absolutely no fans quite yet. (Yes, I know that’s Cory’s position — our topics are prediscussed.) I would like to see how it plays out over the next few weeks and months.
What makes college football unique and special is the pageantry — the fans, the bands, the traditions — so I’d like to hold up and follow what the scientists are saying there, rather than a sheer projection today.
It may be that schools can be creative and sell every other row with two seats between everybody and then just adjust accordingly in the hopeful case that 2021 can be closer to normal, if in fact we’re ever going to return to the past model of stadium normal.
Waiting to start the season until Sept. 26 buys everybody invaluable time.
Players can be tested and quarantined and begin practicing in late August. (Franklin says they only need a month of preparation). Students may not have to return until Sept. 20.
Relative to whether it’s safe for any level of fandom, the colleges can learn — which is their No. 1 mission, right? — from if, how and when the professional ranks will be pave the way.
We all want answers tomorrow, but for sports right now, that’s not possible.
Here’s hoping the NCAA leadership is making plans for some alternatives that would require compromise and ingenuity and throw a bone of hope to the college football fans.
God knows we need one.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.