Current College Football COVID-19 Scheduling Status & Potential NFL Impact
Ha Kung Wong
While most of the nation is soaking up the sun and hitting the beach over the summer (albeit while social distancing and with masks), we impatiently endure the sun and surf while rooting for the leaves to turn color as we get to fall for the start of the football season. Why? Because we’re crazy about the NFL and a good weekend for us includes getting up early on an Sunday to watch 5 hours of football news followed by locking in games for the next 10 to 11 hours, then perhaps a few post game shows for good measure, all the while getting bewildered stares from those who just don’t get it. That’s been my Sunday routine for as long as I can remember. Not that I have a great memory or anything, but I think you get the point.
But as we turn the corner to the 2020 NFL season, questions still abound regarding whether we’ll start on time, and worst yet, whether we’ll start at all. It’s already pretty clear we won’t have fans in the stands, but is it possible that there won’t be any players in the stadiums either?
We spent some time on our last podcast discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the NFL season and whether we think we’ll even have a season. It’s pretty clear things will be different, and over 60 players have already opted out due to concerns over safety. We’re only about a month away, and with the preseason cancelled, it’s starting to look less and less likely that we’ll have a full season, if we’re going to have a season at all.
Clearly, NFL football has a lot at stake from a revenue standpoint, as they already stand to lose a whopping $5.5 billion just from having no fans in the stands, which includes lose of ticket sales, concessions, sponsors, parking and stadium team store sales, which is 38% of their annual revenue. Doing some quick math, that means there’s at least another $8 billion at risk if the season doesn’t go forward at all. So, to say that the NFL is motivated to have a season would be an understatement.
College Football isn’t exactly the same, but football revenues are also important for many schools. That being said, college football players aren’t paid and risking their health and safety to bring in revenue for the school is a questionable proposition at best. However, if it can be done safely, I’m sure most players would want to play and every fan would certainly want to cheer them on.
So we outline what each of the Division I conferences are currently doing (or not doing) this upcoming season in hopes of gleaning some clue as to how our beloved NFL will be impacted, and we’ll continue to track developments as they go forward. Lock it in and and let us know if you have any thoughts!
Big Ten Conference
UPDATE (August 11): And it’s official, as the Big Ten has cancelled the fall season.
Big Ten Statement on 2020-21 Fall Seasonhttps://t.co/BCiRSzeAPL
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) August 11, 2020
UPDATE (August 10): As of now, it looks like the Big Ten will cancel their season.
📺@dpshow "Here’s the information I got…
––The Big Ten and Pac-12 will cancel their football seasons tomorrow. The Big 12 and ACC are on the fence, and the SEC is trying to get a delay to have teams join them." https://t.co/QYxbHNQJZa
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) August 10, 2020
The Big Ten set its updated 10-game, conference-only schedule on August 5.
The football schedule starts as early as the weekend of Sept. 5 with final games slated for Nov. 21 to align with academic calendars. The Big Ten Football Championship Game remains scheduled for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium, though it could be moved as late as Dec. 19. pic.twitter.com/vWp3OSifBc
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) August 5, 2020
On August 8, the Big Ten announced that “based on the advice and counsel” of its infectious diseases task force and its medicine committee, the league will remain in its current phase of football practice with helmets only instead of moving forward with padded practice.
Big Ten Statement:https://t.co/fY7kEWFY8g
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) August 8, 2020
And that may not be all, as there appears to be some momentum for canceling the season in its entirety, but no decision on whether to move forward with the the Big Ten’s season is expected this weekend after league presidents meet.
Source: Big Ten presidents are meeting today. All options are on the table. There's some presidential momentum for canceling the fall football season. It's unknown if there's enough support to make that decision today.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 8, 2020
Further, Big Ten students have also been concerned with safety in the upcoming season.
A group of more than 1,000 Big Ten football players is calling on the conference and the NCAA to devise a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety and well-being of players leading up to and during the upcoming fall season. #BigTenUnitedhttps://t.co/C8gt2Fddbs
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 5, 2020
Big 12 Conference
The Big 12 will play 10 games in the fall, including nine conference games and one nonconference game beginning around mid-September. The nonconference games must be played at home before the start of the conference games. The Big 12 Championship Game is still scheduled for December 5 but could be pushed back a few weeks.
The Big 12 announces 10-game schedule model – nine conference games and one non-conference game – for 2020 football season.
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) August 4, 2020
UPDATE (August 11): And now this one is also official as the Pac-12 has postponed fall football.
Update on the 2020-21 Pac-12 season below.https://t.co/G6VxDO2VM2
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) August 11, 2020
UPDATED (August 10): As noted above, the Pac-12 also is expected to cancel their season.
The Pac-12 also moved to a conference-only schedule for 2020. The league also delayed starting mandatory athletic activities until the coronavirus pandemic begins trending significantly down. The Pac-12 announced its full schedule on July 31 with the season for the conference set to begin on September 26.
Pac-12 approves 2020 football schedule and plans for fall sports.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) July 31, 2020
But players in the PAC-12 are also concerned about health and safety during the season.
The Players of the Pac-12 will opt-out of fall camp and game participation due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns unless the conference guarantees in writing to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons. #WeAreUnited https://t.co/KQ3oqdB5BL
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 2, 2020
SEC – Southeastern Conference
The SEC stated that it will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule, releasing a revised football schedule on August 7. Teams will play the eight opponents they were originally scheduled to play from the league and the next two opponents from a cross-division rotation.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) August 7, 2020
ACC – Atlantic Coast Conference
The ACC announced an 11-game schedule for the 2020 season, consisting of 10 league games and one nonconference opponent, with a full schedule released on August 6. Notre Dame will join the ACC for 2020 only, playing a full 10-game conference schedule with an additional opponent, making it eligible for the ACC Championship Game.
The wait is over.
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) August 6, 2020
As noted above, Notre Dame is scheduled to play 10 ACC teams this season as part of the conference’s updated schedule and is a temporary member of the ACC for one year.
Time to Rally! ☘️
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 6, 2020
UConn, on the other hand, has canceled its 2020 season.
After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we've decided that @UConnFootball will not compete on the gridiron this season. https://t.co/R5dLlnFNo9
— UConn Huskies (@UConnHuskies) August 5, 2020
BYU, Liberty, Army, UMass and New Mexico State are still finalizing their 2020 plans.
UPDATE (August 11): UMass has cancelled fall football.
— UMass Athletics (@UMassAthletics) August 11, 2020
AAC – American Athletic Conference
AAC teams will be allowed to play up to 12 games. There will be the usual eight conference games scheduled, beginning on September 19. The AAC Championship Game will be played on either December 5, 12 or 19 at the stadium of the regular-season champion.
We have announced the conference's plan and timeline for the start of athletics competition for the Fall 2020 season.https://t.co/59CTngWr9P
— The American (@American_Conf) August 5, 2020
MAC – Mid-American Conference
And here’s the big news, as the MAC is the first conference to decide not to play college football in the fall. It does, however, intend to play in the spring, which is something that could happen for the Big Ten as well if they decide to cancel their fall season.
— #MACtion (@MACSports) August 8, 2020
UPDATE (August 10): The Mountain West has postponed the football season.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) August 10, 2020
The Mountain West determined that it will play its usual eight conference games and two nonconference games with play permitted to begin September 26. The league championship game will be held one of the first three Saturdays of December (5, 12 or 19).
Updates regarding 2020 Football and Fall Sports have been announced. pic.twitter.com/tONFKLWlCC
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) August 5, 2020
But players in the Mountain West are similarly concerned about health and safety.
We are more then athletes, we are United. 🗣 pic.twitter.com/6FCLMta5zg
— Donovan Dalton (@ddalton__) August 7, 2020
The Sun Belt determined on August 4 that it will play a full season beginning on Labor Day weekend. Several member schools have had nonconference games canceled, but the league will allow teams to add new nonconference games in order to reach a 12-game slate. A league championship game is scheduled for December 5, but the date can be changed.
After extensive discussions and careful deliberation, the Sun Belt Conference announced today that its football season will begin over Labor Day weekend. #SunBeltFB https://t.co/NeoSqkl6cm pic.twitter.com/ocu2fx1xda
— Sun Belt (@SunBelt) August 4, 2020
C-USA announced August 7 that its teams will play their originally scheduled eight conference games and up to four non-conference games. The league title game is scheduled for December 5 but could be moved if needed.
𝐂-𝐔𝐒𝐀 𝐁𝐨𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐀𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐑𝐞𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐲
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) August 7, 2020