What does the MAC Canceling the Fall Football Schedule Mean to the Rest of the Group of Five?

While Division II and III and most Division I FCS programs, as well as one Group of Five team in Connecticut, are planning on calling it quits for a 2020 season last week, the biggest hit so far in the college football world playing this fall was the Mid-American Conference announcement last Saturday Saturday to not play this fall due to our country’s COVID-19 pandemic. 

MAC football season canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

BREAKING NEWS: Mid-American Conference President Dr. Jon Steinbrecher holds a news conference after the announcement that the MAC football season has been canceledRead details: . https://nbc25news.com/news/local/reports-mac-2020-football-season-has-been-canceled

Posted by Mid-Michigan NOW on Saturday, August 8, 2020

What are the current statuses of the Group of Five conferences?

American

12 games (eight conference). The American is essentially attempting to play a full schedule.

Start date: Aug. 29. Championship: Dec. 5, 12, or 19.

Conference USA

12 games (eight conference). Like the American, the Sun Belt is attempting to play out a normal season.

Start date: Sept. 5. Championship: Dec. 5.

Mountain West

10 games (eight conference). The MW detailed its plans on Wednesday, although a final conference schedule has not been released.

Start date: Sept. 26. Championship: Dec. 5, 12, or 19.

Mid-American

As mentioned, the MAC cancelled Fall Season and intends to move to a spring schedule.

Start date: TBA in spring

Sun Belt

12 games (eight conference). Like the American and C-USA, the Sun Belt is basically attempting to play out a normal season.

Start date: Sept. 5. Championship: Dec. 5.

Independents

UConn has cancelled its fall schedule and made no indications of playing in the spring. 

All other G5 independents (Army, BYU, Liberty, UMass, and New Mexico State) have not made any announcements as of yet on their intentions or number of games each will play.

What do I think will happen with the rest of the conferences?

The Group of Five leagues outside of the MAC have followed the Power Five leagues for their conference play this fall and will likely would follow their lead again. 

The Detroit Free Press reports that Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren prefers playing in the spring.  The Big 10 also delayed its full-contact practices as a league on the same day as the MAC’s announcement. 

The Pac-12 will do the same and then the other conferences will be forced to follow too. 

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that he has talked to two P5 Athletic Directors and the following were their quotes.

“It’s not fair what we’re doing to our coaches and student-athletes,” one long-time Power Five AD said. “The sooner we can come to a finality, the better.”

“I think it’s inevitable [the season will not be played in the fall],” said another veteran Power Five AD.

Another report from another P5 AD from the Stadium’s Brett McMurphy:

Based on this kind of information, the fall schedule will not be played.  Unfortunately, I give it a week to 10 days before we hear all of college football conferences being cancelled for the first time since World War II. 

What would a spring schedule look like if it is played as a full like the MAC has suggested?

CSJ’s own Chuck Burton outlined a possible FCS spring schedule with that division playing the playoffs where the two teams in the championship would play nine or ten games. 

For the Group of Five side, I could see league only schedules of eight games with one out-of-conference game to make up a nine-game schedule.  Each league would also play its conference championship games. 

I like the Memorial Day as a guideline to try to have a bowl week of eight days to play the various bowl games.  This timing works well as it does then give around 10-weeks before a 2021 fall football season would begin again. 

I would put one bye week in there so pushing this back to have one week off before the bowl games after the conference championship games.  So this would then need 13 weeks before Memorial Day to start the 2021 Spring Football schedule. 

This would put the start of the spring schedule to start on February 29th.  This would look like the following with the key dates using a Saturday as the date:

          -Week 1 (Start of Regular Season): Feb. 27th

          -Week 11 (Final Game of Regular Season): May 15th

          -Conference Championship Games: May 22nd

          -Bowl Games: (Start Bowl Games May 29th through June 5th)

I know spring football will bring up some logistical problems as most programs have basketball and some with ice hockey that are just wrapping up their regular seasons on what would be Week 1 and Week 2 of the football season and then have their postseason conference tournament over what would be Week 3 of the season.  And then NCAA basketball tournament through the Weeks 4, 5, and 6 of this spring football season. 

And many programs also have baseball starting at this time as well so it would make for some challenges but one idea might be to push baseball back to start a month later so it is not disrupting basketball and football being at the same time and only overlap football for the second half whereas basketball overlaps the first half. 

But before we get to a spring schedule, lets see if the other leagues follow what the MAC is doing over the next two weeks.  Based on the information I see and have heard; this looks very much like it will.  It looks like if anyone wants to see college football in this academic calendar year, the spring will be the only time it will be seen. 

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