On Monday, September 8th, the Mountain West released an unexpected statement about the status of the fall sports season.
While many fans from the Mountain West have complained that this statement reveals nothing and continue to criticize the Mountain West, there are some points in the statement that do reveal some information.
Firstly, the Mountain West has stated that many of the same challenges that led to the postponement of the fall season still remain a month later, and while some may not agree, the fact remains there are still challenges. One of the biggest challenges for the Mountain West to resume fall sports is the state and local guidelines. Teams such as Boise State and Utah State may have an easier time with this challenge as the guidelines are a little less restrictive than in states such as California, where San Diego State, Fresno State and San Jose State would have a much harder time getting football cleared with much stricter guidelines. The fact of the matter is that the Mountain West may not move forward with fall sports if a couple of different teams will not be allowed to play. One of the other challenges is travel, especially for a team such as Hawaii. If the Mountain West were to resume the season at some point in 2020, they would likely follow protocols of other conferences that are playing this fall and have adjusted terms for traveling.
The second thing that the statement points out is that there has been frequent meetings between the Mountain West Board of Directors, Athletic Directors, Health & Safety Advisory Committee, Conference staff, institutional athletics administrations and coaches and student athlete representatives to discuss scheduling, enhanced medical protocols, and management plans. What this means is that work has been done to try to return to play as quickly as possible. As a fan, all of this can seem frustrating and pointless, but it is important to remember that these are strange times and there are many factors and challenges to consider rather than just saying start the season. One of the points to keep note of in this part of the statement is the coaches and student athlete representatives. This means that teams are being represented more than they were when the decision was made to postpone the season, and this could potentially lead to a faster return to play.
Thirdly, the statement points out that winter sports and other spring sports are expected to stay on track. This is significant because it means that sports such as basketball have the green light, even if the start will be delayed for the present moment and it also shows that football may also be given the green light if other sports are given the same. The statement does say that Winter and Spring sports will be conducted concurrently with rescheduled Spring sports, but this is an update that could change as the Mountain West sees how the conferences playing this fall respond to COVID-19 complications. So far things have looked pretty smooth and this will be a large factor in when the Mountain West makes the decision to resume football, however two games (SMU at TCU) (Louisiana Tech at Baylor) have already been postponed and college football has now quite reached the second week of the season, so this is something to keep an eye on.
The Mountain West also gave an important date in September 16. This will be a very important date because the NCAA Division 1 Council will be meeting to act upon frameworks for football, men’s and women’s basketball, and rescheduled fall sports. This is a specific update that will have a large impact on when the Mountain West plays football. The BIG 10 has been making recent strides in working with protocols to start the season, though it is unclear when this will happen. Some have suggested October so that the BIG 10 would be able to compete in the bowl season, whatever that may look like, and the College Football Playoff, but that seems unlikely as no official decision has been made yet and teams need to be ready to go. There has also been a lot of speculation about starting the season in November and playing a Winter season and this scenario has been getting a lot of talk recently. If the BIG 10 made the decision to start the season in November to allow more time for recruiting and give players the chance to play and have time to prepare for the NFL Draft, then the Mountain West and PAC-12 could follow.
It remains unknown when fall sports will resume, but the push is certainly to get football up and started as it produces the most revenue. While the statement from the Mountain West seems to not reveal very much, it does show that the Mountain West is truly working towards a solution and that they are getting coaches and players involved in this decision which is comforting to know. Though many fans have demanded that the Mountain West start the football season, it is likely that the Mountain West will not start the season until the Spring. More updates will come on what the Mountain West has put together for a solution to starting football and other Fall sports.