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College Football In The Spring? The Advantages, Negatives For Pushing To 2021

KSL Sports Front Page: The Future of College Football

KSLSports.com's Trevor Allen, Mitch Harper, Tom Hackett and Zak Hicken discuss the reports that are surrounding the future of college football.

Posted by KSL Sports on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Salt Lake City, UT – Fresh off the report that the Ivy League is shuttering its fall sports for the 2020 season, the college football world was thrust into even more chaos.

Reports surfaced from across the country saying the Pac-12 and Big-10, specifically, would each take another look at a conference-only schedule. The move would potentially eliminate non-conference games with FCS, independent and group-of-five teams.

What would this move look like for the Utes, Cougars, Aggies and the three FCS teams in the Beehive State?

College Football Needs To Play This Fall

Spring football isn’t the answer for college football amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep the season in the fall. In fact, I would argue that games should start taking place at the end of August (Week 0). Get the regular season over and done with before Thanksgiving when forecasts project a potential second wave of the Coronavirus. Conference-only schedules can make this happen if teams end up playing only 10 regular-season games. Then only play the College Football Playoff and the New Year’s Six bowl games, have those take place in February. The sport is already used to long layoffs determining the most important games.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said this week, “COVID is part of our society. Wasn’t caused by football or caused by sports. And there’s no expert view right now that I’m aware of that sports is going to make that worse. It’s part of our society, we’re going to have to deal with it.”

Dealing with COVID-19 can be done in the fall. Pushing the sport back to the spring will cause numerous headaches from putting student-athletes in a situation where they are playing up to 30 games in a 10-month span to the NFL potentially not moving their calendar to accommodate college football. If that happens, say goodbye to seeing guys like Matt Bushman ever playing a game at BYU again as he moves on to the NFL.

We don’t know when the vaccine is coming. Let’s play it in the fall with zero fans in the stands and make these events made-for-TV events that keep student-athletes health and safety at the forefront.

-Mitch Harper, BYU insider

Pac-12 Plus BYU

If the Pac-12 follows suite with the Ivy League and moves their football season to spring 2021, this will create a ton of problems, especially if the other four power conferences don’t do the same. The conference has many options at their disposal if they go to conference-only schedules and still be able to play in the fall because the conference can control everything when it comes to schedule and how to get games played while keeping student-athletes and staff safe.

There is also ways for the rivalry game to be played if the Pac-12 would allow it. It would be safe because BYU would not need to take a plane to Salt Lake City. The Pac-12 could allow a 10-game schedule with their normal 9-game conference slate while allowing an in-state school out of conference to play against a Pac-12 program.

While all of those options and more still lay out on the table. I still think the Pac-12 will ultimately play a conference-only schedule in the spring whether other conferences follow or not. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen because that is a completely different conversation.

-Trevor Allen, Utah insider

Creating More Problems Than It Solves

Personally, I think there are more hitches than potential benefits of pushing the football season back to the spring. Any of these teams are risking potential injury for the following (fall 2021) season due to the now shortened off season a spring season would create. This would also create a huge hitch in the calendar for high school athletes and for the NFL. Early enrollee high school athletes could potentially go from finishing their senior season in November to playing college football in March. Those four short months aren’t enough to give these athletes an opportunity to recover and acclimate to playing at the collegiate level.

The NFL would be a bigger issue. I don’t think the NFL is going to adjust it’s schedule to accommodate 1-2 conferences making the change. A spring football season would directly compete with the NFL combine, draft, and rookie mini camps. I think this would lead most athletes to have to potentially decide between playing their final college football season, or turning pro. Again, this runs into a problem where they wouldn’t be able to recover due to the shortened off season.

The other concern I have is how this may impact the hierarchy of the Pac-12 among P5 conferences. The conference already has a history of struggling to compete financially due to the loss in TV revenue due to the poor conference TV network. If the Pac-12 were to decide to “bow out” of the CFP and not compete for the national championship, to me it signifies the conference saying that they don’t care to compete or be among the blue bloods of college football. You won’t see the SEC or ACC adjust their schedule, I am certain of that. I guarantee this would cause issues within the conference with those who would like to compete – could it potentially drive conference realignment? It’s not out of the question.

I also don’t think the conference could make up for the lost TV revenue. The Pac-12 Network has a limited number of households it is available in nationally, and advertisers would (in my opinion) be less likely to pay money for a lone conference playing a conference only schedule when going head-to-head with events like (assuming they are played) the NBA season or March Madness.

-Zak Hicken, KSL SportsBeat

Benefits Of Spring Ball

The future of college football in 2020 is suddenly in question, despite numerous efforts by the powers that be to best assure a football season will occur. With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across America, it only seems fitting that the CFB season be pushed back into the spring.

Play the season in the spring, what is the big problem? I do not understand. The CFB off-season is too long anyway, the NFL will move a few specific dates such as the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft back to accommodate for the changed CFB schedule and everything is fine. You’re concerned that your team will miss out on Spring Ball? Reality check, spring ball barely matters. Spring ball matters to the third and fourth string players fighting to impress the coaches enough that they can play special teams in the upcoming fall. Spring ball does not matter. You’re worried for the players safety and question whether their bodies will be able to handle two seasons in one year? If anybody can handle that stress, I imagine 18-23 year old collegiate student-athletes are somewhere near the top of that list. They will be just fine. Trust me, none of them care for winter, spring or summer conditioning. Let the boys play!

People do not like change, I understand. But with where the world, and more importantly the United States, is at with the coronavirus, it makes more sense to play the season in the spring than it does in the fall. Too much risk for my liking if the season ends up being played in the fall.

-Tom Hackett, KSL Cross-Platform Contributor

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