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Volume 26 No. 227
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Pac-12's Move To Conference-Only Casts More Questions On Football

If it is deemed unsafe to play college football this fall, some observers have pondered a spring model
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
If it is deemed unsafe to play college football this fall, some observers have pondered a spring model
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
If it is deemed unsafe to play college football this fall, some observers have pondered a spring model
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Pac-12 on Friday joined the Big Ten in announcing it would move forward with a conference-only football schedule this fall, "creating more uncertainty around college football's existence in 2020," according to Theo Lawson of the Spokane SPOKESMAN-REVIEW. There "should be more clarity" in the coming weeks "surrounding college football in 2020 and whether Pac-12 schools will allow teams to add additional conference games to the nine-game schedules they now face -- something that would conceivably help them make up the revenue forfeited by skipping nonconference games, even if games are played with limited or no fans." If it is "ultimately deemed unsafe to play college football this fall, some have pondered the concept of a spring model" (Spokane SPOKESMAN-REVIEW, 7/11) .

KICKING THE CAN? In Eugene, Ryan Thorburn reported the Pac-12 "plans to release details of its revamped football schedule by July 31." That "at least gives the conference a few weeks to hope the positive coronavirus tests spike throughout its footprint dramatically declines" (Eugene REGISTER-GUARD, 7/12). In California, Adam Grosbard wrote the Pac-12's decision "comes as cases of coronavirus have surged across the country and in the six states where the Pac-12 resides." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in his statement about the schedule change implied that the move is "meant [to] buy the conference time as it plans for the seasons ahead" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/11). In Colorado, Pat Rooney wrote spring football is "likely to soon be a reality." Rooney: "Given the current curve of the coronavirus ... the chances of witnessing even a conference-only football season this fall are dimming by the day." The elimination of nonconference games "only buys one month." Until teams "can conduct full practices safely, playing season openers in late September will remain a fantasy" (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 7/12).

CRUEL TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT: The AP's John Marshall wrote the Big Ten and Pac-12's shifts to conference-only schedules "will likely have a ripple across the college sports landscape." Smaller schools that "rely on revenue from guarantee football games against Power Five schools could be shorted millions of dollars." Non-Power Five schools receive hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1M from "guarantee games to fund their athletic departments" (AP, 7/11). In Detroit, David Goricki noted there were 10 nonconference games between the Big Ten and the MAC this season, and MAC schools "count heavily on the payouts from football games against Power Five opponents to meet their budget obligations." It "remains to be seen if Big Ten schools will have to make full payouts to their canceled opponents" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/11). 

RE-ALIGNMENT RESIDUALS: In Houston, Brian Smith calls into question the geographical logic of conference-only scheduling, writing, "Maybe someone out there can convince me that Georgia playing Georgia Tech is more dangerous than Ohio State playing Rutgers and USC playing Oregon." Smith: "You want to limit games to in-state or within a set geographical area? Fine. That makes sense and is increasingly understandable in an athletic environment that continues to be wildly unpredictable. ... But canceling Michigan at Washington almost two months away from the game? ... Canceling Iowa State at Iowa, even though both teams obviously hail from the same state?" Smith: "Nothing about that makes sense" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/12).

COLUMNIST CALLS FOR CANCELLATION: In San Diego, Bryce Miller wrote attempting to play college football in the fall is an "old-fashioned cash grab of the worst kind, with teens and young adults carrying the financial water for the benefit of adult decision-makers during an unprecedented health crisis." Miller: "Time to point the business-minded insanity to the bench." The "continued push to salvage a season for a high-contact, close-proximity sport involving thousands upon thousands each fall Saturday so blatantly and selfishly ignores medical professionals, science and obvious, alarming trends that it mystifies." Miller: "Cancel the season" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/12).