Well this sucks. The Big Ten Conference has handed down their decision regarding the upcoming 2020 football season. Led by new Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, the university presidents of Big Ten member schools voted to cancel the season in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Whether or not the vote ended up being unanimous I don’t know, as I believe Nebraska and Iowa were in favor of still playing, with the other 12 member schools, including Ohio State, all being in favor of canceling.
Regardless of the Big Ten’s decision, as a fan, this bites. I can understand why it was done, and I’m not arguing against that. But I’m still bummed out about it. When the pandemic first hit here in the States five months ago, I was actually fine with most sports being postponed or cancelled. But I made the comment to friends and family that if there ended up being no Ohio State football in 2020, it would break my heart. It looks like that has become a reality. I understand a game is a game, and that player safety should come first. But where my point of contention is, starts with the plain realization that our society is still VERY, VERY far from being even remotely normal. And who knows when the hell normalcy will happen. Society might not go back to normal for another year or two, honestly.
But in the midst of all the weirdness, sports can help to bring some shred of normalcy to a seriously messed up year. Some tiny sliver of hope that everything is going to be okay, and that we will eventually make it out of this. College football can give people something to look forward to, make them happy, and actually bring an otherwise severely divided country together over the common interest in rooting for our favorite teams. After all, we could use SOMETHING to bring us together between now and November 3rd, the day of the 2020 Presidential Election, when the shit hits the fan!
But as it stands right now, at least four conferences have cancelled their seasons. The Big Ten, Mid American Conference, Mountain West Conference and PAC-12 have cancelled, with several more conferences still on the fence as to what they’re going to do. As of this article, there have been no official decisions yet from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference (SEC). It’s also hard to tell if all conferences will eventually cancel their seasons at this point. Especially when there is an interesting conspiracy theory floating around: The SEC creating a “super conference” or “mega conference” apart from the NCAA.
This conspiracy theory definitely has me interested. Particularly in how teams from outside the SEC, such as Ohio State, would be chosen. Especially if the conferences of schools outside the SEC have already said no to playing football in 2020. Also, if this theory is true, does one conference have the legal power to defy the NCAA and strike out on its own? Who knows. But it would certainly be interesting!
I know people would certainly watch football if a mega-conference ended up materializing. LSU and Alabama could be joined by schools like Ohio State, Clemson, Penn State, and others. I certainly would watch! There would be a big enough chunk of the country who would watch the most talented teams go at it, that it might be successful on its own. I don’t know how much money the SEC helps the NCAA make every year. But that conference has absolutely DOMINATED the college football landscape for over at least the last 15 years, with most of the recent National Champion teams coming out of that part of the country and conference, so I’m sure the SEC makes plenty of money to support itself. If the SEC does have some legal authority to operate apart from the NCAA for a season, I would be in favor of this!
Possible Spring 2021 Football
Here’s another interesting option if college football isn’t played at all in 2020. From what I’ve heard and read thus far, this seems to be the way the Big Ten is leaning. However, the two main issues I have with this are: How are the conferences who want to play a full-length Spring football season going to make this work without screwing up the NFL Combine or Draft? Both are held during the Spring, with the Combine being held in March, and the the Draft being held either in late April or early May.
I know that speaking at least for my team, many Ohio State players who are going to be drafted might have their draft stock screwed up in some way. Not to mention the players who would be seniors this season may or may not be granted an extra year of eligibility. It seems unfair to me, if college athletes aren’t able enjoy one last season with their friends and teammates. Also, is it really a wise thing to play a Spring 2021 football season when players have been spending all of this Spring training and conditioning their bodies for a shot at playing this Fall? Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is against Spring football for these exact reasons, and I am complete agreement with him.
If conferences do opt for a Spring football season, to me, that means the next football season shouldn’t be played until Fall 2022 at the earliest. Having athletes play two full-length seasons in less than one calendar year is asking an awful lot of their bodies and minds. I’m obviously not a world-class college athlete like many of these guys are. But I’m sure they have to do a LOT of grueling and painful work to beat themselves into top physical and mental shape for a season. If conferences are truly concerned about player health and well-being, they should push back the next Fall season to 2022 if they choose Spring football for 2021.
I don’t know where I stand on the whole football/no football thing. As a fan, of course I want to see college football in some capacity this year. I miss following and watching the Buckeyes like you would not believe. I’ve passionately loved that football team since I was five years old! And like I said earlier, I think college football could help bring some sense of normalcy to an otherwise weird year, and intensely fractured country. It would certainly help many people’s mental health to have something “normal” in life again. But if the people in charge of these cancellations are truly making them in the interest of player health and safety, and not some ulterior political motive, it would probably be a good idea to wait until Fall 2021 to play the next football season. But I can see both sides of the argument. Both sides are valid.
Stay tuned with me, ladies and gents. It’ll be interesting to see how everything unfolds!