The “New Normal” in College Football

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 13: Cornerback Kristian Fulton #1 of the LSU Tigers defends Wide Receiver Tee Higgins #5 of the Clemson Tigers during the College Football Playoff National Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. LSU defeated Clemson 42 to 25. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Everyone in the sports world hoped that baseball would be the last victim to fall to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, things look very bleak for the college football season in 2020. Cases have begun to spike again in states like Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Idaho, Arkansas, and South Carolina. Due to the rise in the number of cases, many colleges have moved the fall semester of classes online. The countdown to the fall season is in less than two months. So what will be the “new normal” in college football?

The “New Normal” in College Football

Power 5 Conferences Begins to Respond

Now in the middle of July, the Power 5 conferences have answered some questions revolving around the football season. The Big Ten and the PAC-12 have announced they will be hosting conference-only schedules. In a press conference, Larry Scott (PAC-12 commissioner) said, “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.” The Pac-12, like the Big Ten, plays nine conference games, but this year it won’t be playing in non-conference games that could have helped its College Football Playoff chances.
Not all Power 5 conferences have made a decision about the fate of the 2020 football season. The SEC and the ACC want to wait until later in the month to announce their decision. “In the coming weeks, we will continue to meet regularly with campus leaders via video conferences and gather relevant information while guided by medical advisors,” commissioner Greg Sankey said. “We believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us,” the SEC commissioner announced. The Big-12 has already made a decision on bands, cheerleaders, and other school organizations being sidelined to the conference-only approach.

Different Schools Make Different Decisions

The mixed decisions made by different schools and conferences will significantly impact the NCAA season as a whole. The University of Michigan made the statement that no sports will continue until it is safe for all students to return to campus. Most universities are eager to start back to football as soon as permitted. The NJCAA announced that the football season would be moved to Spring 2021. This has a great impact on JUCO athletes getting recruited to play at the next level. Teams that do not belong to a conference will have a tough time with the impact of the Power 5 non-conference schedules as well. For example, Notre Dame has six games scheduled against the ACC. The ACC going to a conference-only schedule will kill the Irish’s football season.

Will the NCAA Step Up to the Plate?

The College Football Playoff will also be nearly impossible to host fairly with the number of changes and differences between conference to conference. The NCAA already announced the CFP would look significantly different. This might lead to the eventual expansion of the bracket because most spots are based on non-conference games.
The college football season will definitely look way different than it has in seasons past. With all this uncertainty, the NCAA needs to take over more decision making as a whole. This will keep things uniform across the whole NCAA.

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