Altering season structure could impact traditions, routines and draft picks
COVID-19 has sent administrators, school officials and conference commissioners scrambling to reach a solution. As they continue to search for answers, an alarming reality is beginning to set in — the potential for a full cancellation of next season or perhaps even worse, the complete alteration of the current schedule and structure.
Recent brainstorming efforts by Power 5 commissioners have only generated a response that threatens to completely discard the current structure of college football.
These ideas appear to be examined only through a financial lens. Statistics provided by Teamworks and the Lead 1 Association revealed that 35% of officials from FBS schools believe revenue will drop by more than 30% next season.
However, there are a litany of issues that could surface as a result of those decisions and for that reason, officials should be urged to consider the bigger picture.
Some proposed solutions include the season being split between the late fall and the spring, regardless of students returning to campuses in the fall. Another possibility includes shifting the season to the spring entirely and concluding the season in June.
Can you imagine the implications of these alternative options? No tailgates, no fight songs or alma maters being played by the band. Even just thinking about major college football teams playing in front of empty stands that regularly seat 80,000-plus seems outlandish. These are all unthinkable, even at Xavier where we have no football team because many students identify with one.
Traditions would go completely by the wayside. All of my fond memories of grilling out at tailgates, tossing a football around and spending time with my family in the fresh autumn air would be totally ruined.
And what about the players? They are accustomed to battling the sizzling summer heat as they diligently prepare for the upcoming fall season. Starting a football season in the spring would absolutely disrupt this routine.
Arguably the most overlooked aspect about this potential new start to the season is the fact that eventually, the spread of this virus will abate and (hopefully) be contained for good.
In this case, the proposed revised structure of the college football season disregards the future of the game. If one season were to start in the spring, it would not be feasible to start a new season the following fall. It’s just basic logic.
After a full hard-hitting season of smacking pads and taking punishing blows, do you think players are going to want to turn it around three or four months after that? My guess is no.
And there are even more considerations at play here. For instance, should the season be divided between semesters? What happens to players who are high on draft boards?
Take a player such as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, for example. Scouts have salivated over his potential since he became the full-time starter during his freshman season when he was already making pro-caliber throws and reads.
Should the season extend into the spring, that begs the question: Will projected top picks even finish out the season so close to the NFL Draft? With that in mind, there is a higher likelihood of careers to be derailed as a result of injury.
Admittedly, I understand what is really at stake — the hundreds of millions of dollars that college football reels in on an annual basis. However, this should not be the end all be all in the determination of how the future of college football is shaped.
College football is owed to the fans (they are called fanatics for a reason) who tirelessly devote their allegiance to their teams through thick and thin.
Making these changes now will significantly change the structure of the game forever, and almost everything about that makes me feels uneasy.
Despite all this, I am still saddened by the number of lives that have been lost and that will be lost as a result of COVID-19.
And while I certainly can’t be the first to voice how much they will miss college football should it be canceled in Fall 2020, maybe it’s in the sport’s best interest to preserve its rich history.