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It Doesn’t Look Good For College Football This Fall

James Murphy
by in NCAAF on
  • The prospect of playing college football this fall is looking increasingly dim.
  • Multiple reports suggest that the Power 5 conferences are meeting to discuss the fate of the fall 2020 season.
  • The MAC’s decision to postpone their season until spring might have started the momentum toward the inevitable cancellation decision.

It doesn’t look good for college football in fall 2020. The past few days have seen the announcement that the FCS playoffs won’t be held in 2020, the MAC postponing their season until the spring and a player practice boycott at Syracuse. Multiple reports now suggest that the ‘Power 5’ conference leadership met Sunday to discuss the fate of the fall 2020 campaign with additional meetings scheduled for Monday. There’s much to indicate that the cancellation or postponement of fall college football is an inevitability.

The ‘inevitable’ term in relation to the college football cancellation was first tossed around in a CBS Sports article posted on Saturday immediately after the Mid American Conference (MAC) announced that they would be moving their fall sports to spring 2021. That article characterized the MAC decision as something of a ‘sea change‘ in the mood of the college football powers that be.

The Sunday reports on the status of college football are a bit hung up on semantics but the bottom line is that it doesn’t bode well for college football in fall 2020. ESPN first reported that the ‘Power 5′ conference commissioners held an ’emergency meeting’ on Sunday to discuss the situation. CBS Sports updated their story later in the day but in a bizarre editorial decision spent as much time trying to implicate ESPN over incorrect verbiage as they did covering the topic at hand:

ESPN first reported what was deemed an “emergency” meeting, citing several sources. However, the Sunday meeting was previously scheduled and not unplanned, sources tell CBS Sports.

“It’s an ongoing conversation we’ve been having for weeks,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports on Sunday night. “We talk almost every day. I’m not aware decisions have been made.”

He added: “You don’t want to believe everything you read. It was a regularly scheduled call. We talked about a whole bunch of different things. All of us would be less than honest if we wouldn’t acknowledge that the trend lines are troubling and the last two weeks or three weeks have not been positive.”

So it was a regularly scheduled meeting during which they talked about a topic that could best be described as an emergency.

ESPN and CBS Sports did agree on one thing–the urgency of the regularly scheduled and/or emergency meeting was heightened due to reports that the Big Ten is ready to ‘opt out’ of fall sports a la the MAC. Here’s how ESPN reported it:

Sources told ESPN that a vast majority of Big Ten presidents have indicated that they would vote to postpone football season, hopefully to the spring. A Big Ten official confirmed to ESPN that no official vote took place during Saturday’s meeting, but the presidents are set to meet again Sunday night.

“It doesn’t look good,” one Power 5 athletic director said.

Here’s what CBS Sports said:

A recent discussion among Big Ten presidents was reported to be the impetus for the meeting as league presidents appear to be leaning toward canceling their conference’s season and hoped to see where the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC stood.

Big Ten presidents have yet to vote on whether to cancel fall sports in 2020, CBS Sports reported Saturday.

Bowlsby is not sure whether the Power Five conferences will be united on a decision to cancel the season. “Ultimately, we have to do what’s best for our league,” he said.

More meetings among the ‘Power 5’ commissioners are set for Monday but what could really accelerate the situation are meetings of ACC athletic directors on Monday and a meeting of the presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12 schools on Tuesday. The prevailing wisdom is that the SEC, ACC and Big 12 wants to wait and see how things go when students return to campus but that’s essentially what college football has done all along–defer the need to make a decision and hope for the best. They no longer have the luxury of time and if the Pac-12 or Big Ten pulls the plug on their season it might force the rest of the major conferences to fall in line.

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