The predictable cancellation or postponement of the college football season has begun. Just like so many things in our country right now, the early birds of cancellation due to this lingering pandemic have come from the same areas of the country more likely to close schools and lean left in the upcoming November election.
Meanwhile, down here in the South, birds of a feather are sticking together. At least for now, that is. The Southeastern Conference is still set for a 10-game conference-only schedule. The mid-level Sunbelt Conference is still set to go, too.
What about teams in states which do not currently have a big problem in dealing with the C-virus? Nebraska (the state and the state’s flagship university) have been less affected than all of the other Big Ten teams (such as Rutgers in New Jersey). HuskerNation wants to play football – against anyone – this fall. Now that the Big Ten just pulled the plug on its fall football schedule, why shouldn’t Nebraska (or any other college football team) now have the freedom to play football this season against any other teams which they can schedule and play this year only?
On Monday, the Mountain West Conference joined the Mid-American Conference in cancelling the fall football games. On Tuesday, the Big Ten and (of course) the Pac-12 Conferences threw in the proverbial towel on fall football, too.
Last week, the MAC Commissioner said, “The decision is grounded in the core values of the Conference that prioritize student-athlete well-being; an area the MAC has traditionally taken a leadership role. Clearly, we are charting a conservative path – and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group.”
The football teams of the Mid-American Conference are located in states which are fairly close geographically and which have seen a relatively high level of C-Virus cases. Those states are Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and New York.
The Mountain West Conference, though, is spread from Hawaii to California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. Let’s say that Wyoming, Boise State, and Utah State (which are in states which are not struggling as much with the virus) wanted to join-up with Nebraska of the Big Ten and play some football this fall.
It is quite possible that a significant number of college football teams might desire to play ball this fall after their respective conferences stand down. Any conference school that wishes to play football this fall is not hurting any of the other schools which opt out. Why not grant them a temporary release?
Several states in the central portions of the United States have not been hit as hard as other regions of the country. If that team’s football conference shuts down, it should be possible for some of these college football programs to play ball elsewhere for this one season.
Unfortunately, legal issues might tackle Nebraska and any other programs which want to play college football outside of their current conference affiliations. Network television contracts with each conference could muddy the waters for any teams desiring to jump ship for a year.
As expected, ESPN jumped into the waters to defend solidarity within the Big Ten conference. ESPN’s College Game Day host, Desmond Howard, wants Nebraska to be thrown out of the conference completely for even espousing such a traitorous notion.
Howard opined, “All the teams and all the coaches want to play, but they’re not whining and crying and then talking about an exit — talking about leaving the conference. I think that at this point, I would demand an apology from the chancellor and the president and Scott Frost.”
He added, “And not one behind closed doors — a public apology. Or, if I’m [Big Ten Commissioner] Kevin Warren right now, I’m working on a way to get their a$$ out of the Big Ten.”
In case Desmond Howard hasn’t checked lately, the state of Nebraska has seen a total of 350 deaths thus far due to COVID-19. Statistically speaking, it is far safer to be in Nebraska than nearly every other state in America right now.
Why shouldn’t Nebraska receive a one-year waiver to play football somewhere else if they want to? Despite what anyone at ESPN believes, the Big Ten needs Nebraska football a whole lot more than the other way around. Right, Big 12?
If all of the major football conferences decide to shut down this fall, what if some of their member schools (in states where the pandemic has not taken a significant toll) want to venture out on their own for this season?
For the sake of this discussion, let’s also assume that all of these schools are granted a one-year release from their respective conferences and any legal issues are waived.
Your SwampSwami has evaluated the COVID death stats courtesy of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus website. Based on the states with the fewest deaths as of today’s date, here are some FBS major college football teams located in states where the pandemic’s effects have been significantly below the national averages. Let’s introduce my (theoretical) 2020 College Football Renegades Conference!
Western Division – Nebraska (Big Ten), Boise State, Utah State, and Wyoming (Mountain West), Brigham Young (independent), Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State (Big 12), and Tulsa (American) would give us ten quality football teams from the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states where the pandemic issues have been relatively small.
Eastern Division – Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky (SEC), Arkansas State (Sunbelt), Western Kentucky, Marshall, and Middle Tennessee (Conference USA), Memphis (American), Louisville (ACC), and West Virginia (Big 12) would provide a ten team group in states where the COVID deaths have been relatively light thus far.
This is obviously a very fluid situation, but every school and their home state should consider what is best for their own interests this fall. Remember that the football programs of most major universities provide significant financial support to fund other college sports (men and women) on campus.
Asking every school in every state to stand down from playing college football in this crazy year of 2020 seems unreasonable and unfair. For the sake of those schools and their fans, let’s hope that some creative (and safe) options can be reached soon.