The writing has been on the wall for months, but many seem unable or unwilling to accept what is now reality. The college football season will not be starting on time, if it happens at all.
All hope is not lost in regards to contesting a 2020 college football season, but we need to read the warnings loud and clear that starting football in August at its regularly scheduled-time is impossible.
If the latest nationwide spikes in infection haven’t convinced you, perhaps Morehouse College,and Bowdoin College and might – they have cancelled all of their fall sports, including football. Southern U. had to replace Morehouse with Florida Memorial, an NAIA school.
Still not convinced? In the FCS, Dayton and Valparaiso have started to cancel early season games against Southeast Missouri State and Central Connecticut State, respectively. “We simply would not have time for our football team to be physically prepared with the proper exercise and heat acclimatization needed prior to our first game,” Dayton athletics director Neil Sullivan said in a statement.
No official reason was given by Valparaiso as to why they cancelled, but the fact that it required a flight and an overnight stay must have been a big factor.
Still not convinced? The NAIA officially delayed the beginning of their season to September 12th, impacting four FCS schools that had them on their early-season schedule. None of the schools – Kennesaw State, rake, Stetson, or Jackson State – have scheduled replacements.
Still not convinced? Two HBCU Classics – the Southern Heritage Classic and the Detroit Football Classic – were cancelled, and the schools scrambling for replacements. Two others – the Texas State Fair Classic and arguably the most famous of all, the Bayou Classic – have been tentatively moved elsewhere.
Still not convinced? Patriot League has offered guidance to its members that no Patriot League teams will fly to competitions, effectively cancelling three Patriot League out of conference games: Colgate at Western Michigan September 4th, Fordham at Hawai’i on September 12th, and Georgetown at San Diego on November 21st.
Still not convinced? The Ivy League, according to a report by Mark Blaudschun, is only considering two possible plans for 2020 football competition: a seven game conference-only schedule in the fall or a seven game conference-only schedule in the spring. Assuming this report is accurate, and no other plan is being considered by the Ivy League, this effectively cancels 24 college football games – 22 FCS games, 1 Division II game, and one game against an FBS opponent.
At what point do we say the obvious – that college football is going to have a delayed start in the absolute best-case scenario?
Every school that has opened up campus early for preseason workouts has seen spikes in Covid-19 cases, including FCS schools. The Citadel just this weekend had six athletes, including college football players test positive, thus shutting down their offseason workouts.
If schools can’t execute “voluntary” offseason workouts successfully, how can FCS football teams have a normal preseason starting a mere month from now?
Perhaps one school canceling preseason workouts or canceling a game might be explained away. But when there are this many questions and this many cancellations, how can anyone still actually believe college football will start on time?
With exceptional care and progress against Covid, it might be possible to still have a 2020 college football season in the fall. But it will have to reflect some tremendous progress against the disease and a realistic plan for competition that has not been formulated yet. That still could happen. But not if the focus is starting again in August come hell or high water.
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
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