Even at the highest level of the game, there was growing concern about the 2020 college football season. But until last week, it was expressed through foreboding words, not concrete action.
After a gap of four days on the two fronts, the FBS team and which FBS league were the first to be questioned out of Gir football. On Wednesday, Connecticut began its season with a cancellation, a remarkable move yet easily rationalized, given the program’s independent status and play on the free-field.
Then, shortly after 10 a.m. ET Saturday, word leaked that the presidents of the Mid-American Conference had voted to postpone the fall sports season, including football. John Steinbrecher, an emotional commissioner, soon confirmed what he called “a pathetic decision”, and many echoes while saying, “If you told me in March that we would be here today, I never believed it.”
There will be no #MACtion this fall, and sources around college football are expected to follow other leagues. The postponement or cancellation of the season, they say, is unavoidable. Some administrators and coaches point out that there will eventually be a Power 5 conference to move things in that direction, but that day may come soon, especially with the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors scheduled to meet on Tuesday has gone.
“Nobody wanted to be the first to do it,” a Power 5 coach told ESPN, “and now no one would want to be the last.”
A Power 5 administrator said: “It seems that no one wants to, but it is reaching a point where someone is going to be.”
Will there be a crowd of league cancellations this week? Many around the game are watching two conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, which often run in lockstep. On consecutive days last month, they became the first FBS league to announce a conference-only schedule for the 2020 season. The two sets of presidents have been closely linked because many schools are members of the Association of American Universities and have similar educational missions, and league commissioners Kevin Warren (Big Ten) and Larry Scott (Pac-12) have made every announcement. Has announced the season with qualifiers that it may never kick.
Before the MAC announcement, a group of 5 athletic directors said, “Pac-12 and Big Ten, they’re together.”
The Pac-12 is facing regional challenges to start football practices in Arizona and Southern California due to virus rates as well as state restrictions. The league is also working with #WeAreUnited, a comprehensive and organized player unity group seeking reforms in health and safety, racial justice initiatives, compensation and other areas. ESPN reported earlier on Saturday that the Pac-12 players were disappointed by their initial meeting with Scott and other league officials. An administrator of the Pac-12 said league presidents are getting “seriously”, and several league sources said they would not be surprised if the president cancels the falling game on Tuesday.
The presidents of the Big Ten met on Saturday, and while they did not vote to postpone the fall game season, the league announced that football practice had an initial “acceleration” due to information from the league’s COVID-19 advisory advisory groups. Phase “. . Warren has spoken extensively with the league’s campus medical advisors and sports medicine groups in recent times.
Illinois coach Lovie Smith said his staff had been informed of the league’s decision to continue without a helmet for about one-and-a-half hours before their team’s third practice on Saturday.
“We are practicing football right now [and] We want to play, “Smith said.” I want to play [The players] Want to play If they tell us we can’t play, when can we play next time? If it is spring, then so be it. After all, we are going to play football, so whenever we come we are going to embrace that time. “
“Nobody wanted to be the first to do it, and now no one wants to be the last.”
Power 5 head coach at conferences that canceled football
The potential long-term impact of COVID-19, even for recovered athletes, is on the radar for college football’s power brokers and extends to Mack’s decision, athletic director Sean Frazier of Northern Illinois ESPN. This weekend, Clemson coach Dabo Swine revealed that defensive lineman Xavier Thomas has been medically locked since March, including COVID-19. LSU Defensive and Travels Moore and Arizona wide receiver Jayden Mitchell wrote on Twitter that they suffered significant weight loss after contracting the Kovid-19.
“My training staff and everyone at the University of Arizona have done a great job of making us feel safe and cared for,” Mitchell wrote. “Even though they could do everything, staying in a room or house for 28 days had a great impact on my body and mental health. The fact of the matter is if this virus has a hold on you and you have symptoms. Experience, it will have a great impact on you. ”
Sources said team physicians around the game are noticing cases of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle due to viral infection, among college athletes who have COVID-19. College administrators watched last week Debbie Rucker’s Facebook post, The mother of Indiana offensive lineman Brady Feeney, who wrote that his son was still struggling with potential heart problems.
“Don’t we know that was really haunting us, and that’s why we came to our final decision,” Frazier said. “This is part of the data that our presidents used. This mother gave us the game. This stuff is very scary.”
Stanibrecher, Frazier, and others at MAC asserted that health and safety, not worrying about finances, deferred the league’s decision to postpone the falling game. But some feel that resource gaps between leagues like MAC and Power 5 will give big leagues a chance to play, especially if reliable rapid testing improves. “Power 5 can bear the high cost of testing,” said a Power 5 administrator.
But can they afford the optics, especially if a Power 5 league decides not to play this fall?
A director of Power 5 Athletic said, ‘The Big 12, SEC or anyone else wants to play and is preparing to play, the President and Chancellor don’t want to go to an island by themselves.’ “They’ll be the ones to shut it down, even though the league commissioners are determined to keep it out. Everyone is watching what the Pac-12 and Big Ten do in the next few days. That’s for sure. ”
As for Mac, some dropped the importance of its postponement.
“The ACC athletic director said,” Mack’s decision does not affect us at all. “They have to do what they like, and we’ll do that.”
On Saturday, ACC schools such as Clemson and Florida State continued their Presence Camps; The Seminoles are scheduled to use the pads for the first time on Sundays. Austin Peay, who still plans to play with the rest of the FCS Ohio Valley Conference, scrimmed for the first time on Saturday.
“These people love football,” FSU coach Mike Norwell said. “They want to play football. We are ultimately not in control of those decisions.”
With the upcoming season clearly hanging in the balance, many players were outspoken on Twitter about their wishes to play this upcoming season, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Penn State Tight and Pat Fremut and others.
Since that day our health and safety have been elevated above anything else before the Penn State football staff and medical experts arrived on campus. The guidelines keep us safe while playing the games we like. We are ready to play and we want to play.
– Pat Frimuth (@ pat_fry5) August 9, 2020
I don’t know about y’all, but we want to play.
– Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 8, 2020
Decisions made over the next several days can determine if they have to do what they want. Several Sun Belt sources told ESPN that the league is committed to play this fall and cares more about what happens in the SEC, unlike other conferences.
An SEC athletic director told ESPN that the sentiment within the SEC was to pay attention to the end of September where league play is to begin where things are supposed to be at the end of the game.
“If this was our situation last week, let’s look at what happens when all the students return to campus, there’s no new data that makes another decision at this time … except for fear,” the athletic director said.
Others said Mack’s decision expedited the process of ending fall football.
“They are pulling the plug as soon as possible,” said a director at Power 5 Athletic. “Just get over it and let us figure out how to survive.”
Mack hopes to play football in the spring, as many FCS leagues do, which last week called the fall season. The spring option is gaining more traction throughout the game, but many are skeptical, noting that the state of the virus may not change and players will face additional physical demands with trying to play two seasons in a calendar year.
A Power 5 coach said, “You are going to play as many games as you can in both seasons and possibly shorten both seasons, so you have to see what is affecting both 2020 and 2021.” “It may be the only option, but it’s not a good one, especially for players.”
ESPN reporters Chris Low, David Hale and Sam Khan Jr. contributed to this story.