We are just days into this historic new world, where two fifths of college football’s Power Five have canceled football for 2020, and the other three fifths remain steadfast in moving forward with a season. Sure, the Big Ten and Pac-12 are paying lip service to “delaying” until the spring, but it’s just that — lip service. A spring season of college football for those two conferences, especially if the rest of the Power Five pull off a season this fall, is never going to happen. Ever.
So now here we are. The Big Ten and Pac-12, through incredibly rash, short sighted, and illogical decision making have now made it open season on their rosters and their incoming recruits. Ohio State has already seen one big time de-commitment from Texas high school defensive end Tunmise Adeleye….
…and he won’t be the last. Far from it. I’m sure SEC, ACC, and Big XII schools are pouring Big Ten and Pac-12 commitments to remind them which conferences “truly love football,” and through intermediaries, I’m certain those conferences are putting feelers out to players on Big Ten and Pac-12 rosters to gauge transfer interest. That’s just the game, slimy as it may be.
I’m not wild about the slimy part of things, but I do believe that the Big Ten and Pac-12 have made their own bed here. There is no reason they needed to pull the plug on the season this week, and while it’s easy to point out the overall numbers behind the coronavirus and say “Hey, Sean, people are DYING!”, I would submit that it’s a microscopic percentage in the age group of these players, and more importantly, they’re not being turned loose in a safer environment after football gets canceled.
Let’s actually start there. Here are four reasons that canceling college football, at the Power Five level at least, where those schools have the resources to test and test and test some more, doesn’t make sense:
Regular students are coming back to campus anyway
At many of these schools, particularly in the Big Ten, regular students are actually returning to on campus classes this month. Yes, thousands of kids on campus, left to determine social distances and left for us to trust their masking policies. Football players at those schools will now be spending MORE time near the rest of those students. Also, if the Big Ten schools with student returning to campus are THAT concerned about COVID-19, to where they re canceling football, then why on earth are they bringing students back? It makes no sense.
Players in the SEC, ACC, and Big XII will have better access to testing and medical care
When they ultimately nail down hard and fast protocols, it is widely assumed that the SEC, ACC, and Big XII will obviously have some sort of regular testing for COVID-19. This, along with the access to top notch medical staff and facilities, make the players at those schools the most cared-for college students anywhere when it comes to COVID-19. Between frequent testing, the structure of a football regimen, and great doctors, you could argue the safest students in the country are the football players of the SEC, ACC, and Big XII. I feel for the Big Ten and Pac-12 kids who are now left without testing, and many of them being sent back to their hometowns, where depending on their family’s healthcare coverage, it’s hit or miss as to just how protected they are from the coronavirus.
Athletic departments budgets are about to be plundered, say goodbye to non-revenue sports
It would be naive to ignore the fiscal suicide being committed by the Big Ten and the Pac-12, who stand to lose tens of million of dollars by canceling the 2020 football season, basically out of fear — fear of bad press, fear of future litigation, fear of whatever. It’s why I wanted to establish first that the student-athletes in the conferences PLAYING football are actually safer from COVID-19, so my argument doesn’t appear mercenary. Big Ten schools pocket over $50 million per year from the Big Ten Network ALONE. Athletic departments stand to drown in a sea of red ink approaching nine figures. Non-revenue sports, basically everything that’s not football and basketball, that provide scholarship opportunities for literally thousands of kids, many female and minorities, are going to die under a financial guillotine when this is all said and done.
Playing a spring season is actually MORE dangerous than playing in the fall
Here is perhaps the least logical part of the whole thing — the Big Ten and Pac-12 are reportedly wanting to play in the spring. So this would mean playing a football season, which I’m assuming is a minimum of eight games, starting in, say March. This would run through May. Training camp for the fall season, assuming there’s a COVID vaccine and/or therapeutic medicine, would begin in July. That’s LESS than two months between seasons. Seasons of FOOTBALL. This is beyond malpractice, and far more abusive than any sort of exposure players would have to COVID-19. It seems that everyone wanting to cancel football, stuck in their coronavirus fetal position, conveniently forget that they’ve been watching and enjoying a sport for years that includes the risk of permanent head trauma.
So if you’e scoring at home, these two conferences have actually put their student-athletes in more danger of contracting the virus, with fewer resources for diagnosis and care, all while likely wiping out scholarships for thousands of student-athletes in other sports, with a proposal for a replacement football season that is absurdly careless and dangerous.
Honestly, what exactly are the Big Ten and Pac-12 saving these kids from again?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.