I won’t pretend to know what will happen in the coming months with the 2020 football season (or anything really). However, since everyone is talking and thinking about it, we may as well speculate some options. There are quite a few options and opinions being thrown around. This post will present some of those options in an organized and concise way.
The option everyone can agree that no one wants and will try to be avoided at any cost. This would create headaches for recruiting, eligibility, salaries, revenue, and the future of other sports. Football is the driving force behind athletic departments and, in some cases, even a good chunk of school enrollment.
As much as no one wants to see this, there is a chance some parts of the country may not be participating in football this season.
Just the Conference
This would both delay the start of the season a month or so and limit travel. Out of conference games often result in traveling long distances and involve lots of people crossing into a lot of different states. Those potential risks would be eliminated and starting the season in say October buys some extra time.
Regulating games to just in the conference allows travel to become more controlled, by region anyway. It would also put great responsibility on each conference commissioner to determine what makes sense for their conference in terms of play and safety.
This may be the most realistic path towards football this year. It would also go along with Craig Thompson’s recent quote about having 12 teams in 8 different states, and it would be unrealistic to expect them to all be in the same place with this.
A scenario like this would basically have all FBS and maybe FCS teams, if needed, to play against one another. Again, if the point is to get some games in, then this may be the best avenue.
Picture Utah, Utah State, BYU, and Weber State playing each other three times. Maybe Boise State can partner up with the four PAC12 schools in Oregon and Washington, or maybe they are regulated to playing Idaho and Idaho State. Otherwise, imagine like 3-5 Apple Cups games in 2020. California would undoubtedly bring the most exciting games and maybe even the biggest sense of normalcy with so many PAC12 and MWC teams. It could even be cool to see a north and south division or divisions by conference to get some fun matchups.
Play With Whoever Is Around
This is scheduling on the fly and making a 2020 season out of spare parts. The idea here is that with so many states and even areas of states having different timelines and different restrictions, it would be challenging to get everyone on the same page. Rather than try, teams should pair up with whoever is able to in order to salvage some games.
If eight teams out west are playing football, they may do a round-robin type for their season. If states like Nevada and say Oklahoma are relatively safe, then maybe the schools in those states all play each other once or twice. Perhaps we get a random pairing like Stanford and New Mexico, or Ohio State and Wyoming.
This may be one step above no season. The bare minimum for football games would be safe enough for a team to gather together but not be safe enough to gather with other teams regularly.
In this instance, teams can have weekly scrimmages against one another. That would be boring quickly, and it’s hard to see that being televised (although NBC would surely roll Notre Dame out every week like usual).
Every other week, giving every team a partner and trading off home and home games would still be football, albeit barely. It would still allow fans to watch and observe the growth of their team. It may get old in a hurry, but it would be better than nothing.
Delay the start of the season
Imagine the 2020 season going as planned. Every game. Every opponent. Except it starts in say November or January of 2021.
If the goal is for every team to play, this may be the option to look at. Even months away, the governments in Oregon and California have made comments and decisions that put the seasons in jeopardy in their respective universities.
If things appear to be on a good trajectory, then pushing the season back a month or so would allow everyone to return to normalcy, or as many people and teams as possible anyway.
If no states or areas can support any other option, a delay may be a necessity.
As for what will happen? Time will tell. It may not look like any of the scenarios discussed above. However, be assured everyone is working to figure out the best solution possible.