The ACC just announced a 10-game league schedule with the possibility of a single non-conference game. Although there has been great news for the Irish filling their schedule, it is still uncertain whether these games will be played. College Football experts have been so caught up in the scheduling that they have failed to analyze how teams could play football during a pandemic. A Spring Football Season may be the only opportunity to save the season.
Notre Dame Navy Countdown
Kelly and Irish will not make their first trip to Annapolis. According to the ACC, “all non-conference game opponents, selected by the respective school, must be played in the home state of the ACC Institution, and all non-conference opponents must meet the medical protocol requirements as agreed upon by the ACC.” For these two programs, it would certainly appear that the Midshipmen would travel to South Bend.
That is if Navy is the non-conference opponent that Jack Swarbrick elects to keep.
Irish and Midshipmen have met every year since 1927. This gridiron clash was originally scheduled for Dublin, Ireland. Due to the coronavirus, these two programs decided to face-off at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial for the first time in their history. To keep this rivalry going, Notre Dame would likely have to host Navy in South Bend.
10-Game ACC Schedule
Irish can compete for a Conference Championship. The ACC announced, “Notre Dame will also play a 10-game conference schedule and be eligible to compete in the 2020 ACC Football Championship Game.” I am a major supporter of independence for countless reasons, but during a pandemic, this is the decision. It proves how valuable Notre Dame Football is, that the ACC would cater to their needs.
It is doubtful that any of these matchups will be played, but a great deal for Notre Dame and Jack Swarbrick, nonetheless.
Professional Sports in Quarantine. The NBA has been able to maintain the bubble atmosphere through practices and scrimmages. With the limited personnel and players involved in basketball, the sport has been successful amidst the pandemic. However, college football is not that fortunate. The closest comparison for football now is the MLB.
Major League Baseball is entering week 2 of their season. Almost the entire Miami Marlins team has contracted COVID-19. Still, baseball has decided to push through with the season. If any other major outbreaks take place, the season could be canceled and would not be a good sign for college football.
Pros to Spring Season
Football is better than no football. It would be better to play college football this Spring, then attempt a season while the pandemic has not “turned the corner”. There may be a few setbacks and conflicts with other sports, but most programs would find any way to play a season in the Spring. After all, college football is the highest revenue producer for college athletics.
Playing time for future players. Most college football players take time to develop throughout their careers. The last three Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Joe Burrow were all transfers. If the season is canceled, expect the NCAA to give athletes an extra year of eligibility, which hinders other players from getting their opportunity.
Now with graduate students, transfers, and injury waivers, playing time is more difficult to come by than ever before.
Cons to Spring Season
Draft-eligible players. The obvious reason many programs would not want a Spring season is because of the NFL Draft. Many players are not expected to go in the first few rounds, but the top athletes may consider sitting out. For instance, would Clemson want to have a Spring season with Trevor Lawrence sitting out? Or what if Justin Fields decided not to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes?
These are all factors to consider, but there may be no other alternative.
Timeline for 2021 season faces major setback. If college football decided to go with a Spring season, it would push back everything for the 2021 football calendar. Who knows where the coronavirus will be by then, but Spring Football is where coaches can prepare for the upcoming Fall? But, pushing back the 2020 season could delay that process.
A Spring season is still better than no football at all, but there would be a few cons to consider.
Should fans be optimistic or pessimistic? After the news of the Irish joining the ACC for this season, it gave many people hope and excitement. It is impossible to tell whether this will work. Fans will have over a month to see how the MLB season plays out and if baseball can prevent anymore major outbreaks.
Fans should not get their hopes up for a college football season this fall, but they may get so see games sooner rather than later.
Move the 2020 College Football Season to the Spring. I am going to hope for the best and would love to see Notre Dame Football play this fall, but I just do not know if that is realistic. Brian Kelly has done a terrific job of quarantining his program, but countless teams across the country have witnessed outbreaks.
With plane flights, hotels, and contact during football games, conferences may have no other choice but to push the season into the Spring of 2021.