• Peter Burtnett

What's next for college football as Big Ten, Pac-12 cancel fall season


In an anticipated decision made Tuesday, the Big Ten announced the postponement of fall sports, meaning that stadiums like Ohio Stadium will be completely empty this fall, of fans and players. Photo by Peter Burtnett, ISM.

Peter Burtnett

Co-founder, ISM

Saturdays will be radically different in the sports world this year, as the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced the postponement of their fall seasons, with the other Power 5 conferences likely only a matter of time from following suit.

Although the ACC, Big 12 and SEC have been hesitant to postpone their season, it seems that Saturdays will be void of college football this fall.

With the drawback that this decision has already received and the repercussions that are yet to come, where does college football go from here? Is a spring season even viable? What will come out of this potentially history-altering decision?

To address the beginning of the first question, the drawback has been many players spreading #WeWantToPlay and coaches pushing for the season to be played, the split between the system of the NCAA and the players seems likely to grow even more.

A possible repercussion that also could develop is the formation of a Player's Association, which could be the last piece as college athletes will finally be able to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness (NIL) starting in the 2021-22 year.

This player's association would allow for the athletes to have a voice and actually be listened to, something that the NCAA has pushed away for years. With the formation of a united front of players, decisions like the one made by the Big Ten and Pac-12 would consider the opinions of the athletes.

Moving forward, college football teams and conferences must determine whether practice will be allowed to continue, and will consult with medical experts on how to conduct those practices, keeping the health and well-being of the student-athletes at the forefront.

If teams do continue to practice, a spring season would be an option if the COVID-19 situation is finally deemed "safe," but that option has challenges with or without COVID-19 concerns.

Assuming the NFL keeps their standard calendar with the draft next April, it as close to a sure thing that top (and even mid-level) prospects would opt-out of the season, leaving rosters like Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson full of back-ups.

In response to whether a spring season would be viable, I say no, for the reason stated above AND because playing two seasons before the end of 2021 seems unlikely and foolish.

Finally, this decision expands the divide between leadership at the NCAA (and conferences) and the players and coaches who devote large parts of their lives to playing and coaching college football. It's sad to see that when players and coaches were loudly saying they still wanted to find some way to play this fall, the leadership in the Big Ten and Pac-12 said "we give up."

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