When To Play If You Don't Play Now...Four Options


Clemson University Operates In Limited Capacity Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Not a doctor and won't play one. So, I have no idea why we have medical boards from college football conferences disagreeing over if it's safe or possible to play a college football season. I still believe it all comes down to three simple needs: reliable testing, affordable testing and timing of results of those tests. If the cost comes down, testing can happen more frequently, If the results are reliable people will feel confident about the testing. And if you can get results quickly then you can move forward with plans to play games.

None of that will resolve the concerns over myocarditis- the heart ailment many are stating as a key reason the Big Ten and Pac 12 have bailed on a fall season.

But college football needs options if they want to play and all play. A season with at least two of the five power leagues not playing will be a hard sell if you want to have a playoff.

So what can be done? The word flexibility is used a lot these days and I get that you can't keep asking your players to keep starting and stopping preparations to play a season. But there is nothing normal about 2020.

Here's four plans for trying to play a college football season:

A 12-game season is not going to be possible because the later you finish the more challenging people feel it is to start on time in the fall of 2021. So our plans call for a 10-game season being played over the course of 12-weeks. All plans then allow conference championships to be played in week 13. Allow a bye week before a weekend with bowls(who want to play) and the two playoff semifinals. Then week 15 is the national championship and other major bowl games. It would be 15 weeks to start and finish a season.

1. Kickoff Thanksgiving Weekend - Would allow teams three months to see where things stand on their campus, around their league and if the nation has done its part. Games can be played Thursday-Saturday that opening weekend. This plan would run through February 13th with conference title games the following week and national title game by March 13th(or the 15th if you needed to play Monday night). This option would prevent any potential conflict with the NCAA Basketball Tournament which, if it started on time, would tip the following weekend.

2. New Year's Weekend - Most fall semesters are now ending before Thanksgiving. This allows most teams to build a bubble-type environment for the month of the December on campus to prepare for the season. Games can be played December 30th-January 2nd to maximize television coverage in the game's return. This plan would end the regular season March 20th and have a title game April 17th.

3. NFL Bye Week before Super Bowl -A January 30th start date allows college football a weekend to take over television without NFL competition. This schedule would run through April 10th. Playoffs would start May 1st and a title game on May 8th.

4. President's Day Weekend -This plan calls for a start the weekend after the Super Bowl. The extended weekend allows for games to be played through Monday night February 15th. The season would go through May 1st. A national title game could be played on Memorial Day Night on May 31st. 

The concern of starting a fall 2021 season on time becomes challenging if a spring season ends sometime in May. That means that fall schedule would have to likely be pushed back to a late September or early October start. Is a five month break long enough between seasons? I am sure many will debate that over the course of the months ahead. Options 1 and 2 would extend that off-season an additional 1-2 months.

Now, college football needs options and these are a few to think about. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images


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