Football is back in the Mountain West as of last Thursday night. On Friday, Craig Thompson provided some details, as well as how the plan came about. This article will assign grades to each segment of what has been announced thus far.
Coaches zoom call: A-
- The head coaches in the Mountain West got together to make sure they were all on the same page regarding common goals were and the best way to achieve those goals, despite being in different circumstances. This seems to be unique in the MWC compared to other conferences. Credit to them to put aside their difference of opinions and remember what matters. Points off for Troy Calhoun and Marcus Arroyo not being on the call for whatever reason (although they likely had good reasons).
The season will start on October 24th: A+
- The MWC comes out looking good after arguably mismanaging the call on the season in August. They figured out what they needed to in order to salvage the season. That’s what matters. Bonus points for starting their season a week before the PAC-12 is scheduled to start theirs.
Teams will play eight conference games: B-
- Going to a conference-only schedule makes sense. Planning for a maximum of eight games seems like the best-case scenario, and there’s nothing wrong with striving for the best. There’s no downside to setting the benchmark at eight, even if not all teams end up reaching that number.
Seven scheduled games for Air Force and possible Boise State?: B-
- This one isn’t quite set in stone yet, at least not officially. Props to the conference for trying to identify a plan for Air Force to keep their game against Army. But points off until it can be determined how closely it’s tied to the potential of a Boise State/BYU game. If they are separate issues, play on. If the MWC it attempting to force the Broncos to play the Cougars, that’s not a good look. Likewise, if BYU is forcing the Broncos to keep the game so they can keep a game on their schedule at the expense of eight conference games for Boise State, that’s all not a good look. Keep an eye on this one. But good for the Falcons they can play their main rivals Navy and Army.
The conference championship will take place on December 19th: A-
- There isn’t much to say about this one. It will be right in the middle of bowl season, which could lead to some odd game quirks of teams potentially not playing in a bowl due to the conference championship or playing their bowl game before playing in the conference championship game. However, with the season’s timeline, the game can’t be played sooner, and bowl games are secondary to the conference, especially this year. If something like that happens, it will go down as another one of the 2020 season’s oddities.
Testing three times a week: C-
- Major props to the Mountain West for securing a testing partner and getting rapid tests done. However, three times a week also seems like the bare minimum hurdle to clear to play. Is there not enough money for four tests a week? Did they research salvia tests that would be much faster and much less costly? Were people against testing more than three times a week? This is an important area, and it feels like it’s coming up a bit short.
The Mountain West is covering testing costs thanks to its reserve fund. A+
- Perhaps the most impressive part of the entire release was learning about the MWC reserve fund. Apparently, they are sitting on a large amount of money that is used at the discretion of the school presidents. While the amount is unknown, the cost of the tests go well into the millions, and therefore it has to be at least that much. Way to go Mountain West Conference.
Fans being allowed into the stadiums will be determined by individual schools in compliance with their local and state governments: A
- This may seem like a no-brainer, but good on the Mountain West to not overstep themselves here. Since the conference spans so many different states and those states are all in different places with the virus, leave it up to each team and their respective states. Yes, that may create different playing environments, but that’s extremely low on this season’s priority list.
- It felt a bit lackluster to not have a schedule release on Friday, along with all the other information. While this is potentially due to not all teams being officially cleared to play by their respective states, it still seemed empty. It’s probably for the best as Thompson admitted it’s unlikely every team will end up playing eight games this year, but the jury it out until a schedule it actually released.
Contingency Plan: Incomplete
- What happens if teams can’t play? Again the conference wasn’t expected to have those answers or explain them last week. They probably are developing backup plans in the event they need them. However, without knowing one way or the other, it’s hard to say for sure. In the event of a game cancellation, it will be frustrating if two teams have to suffer for one team’s condition. Let’s hope the conference is playing through these scenarios for worst-case scenarios.
Your turn: What grades would you have assigned to these categories? What other categories would you have discussed? Let us know in the comment section.