Some critics will point at the success of the NBA, NHL, and MLS by restarting their seasons in a bubble. They argue that the NCAA could have followed the same model. Very few if any players from the above professional leagues tested positive after entering their respective bubbles.
In sum, it works. Of course, there are logistical challenges like organizing online classes and changing dormitory rules for college students. However, you could also argue that this situation uniquely suits these young men because they already live away from home.
This is all a matter of perspective. Others will argue that a bubble is a bad idea because you’re isolating young athletes away from home. First of all, they will point to the fact that their education will undoubtedly suffer. The majority of college football players don’t make it to the NFL.
In fact, according to the NCAA, only two percent of college footballers make it through the draft. If you play for a Division 1 college, that jumps up to 3.8%, but clearly the chances aren’t great. In reality, most of these players use football as an avenue to a scholarship so that they can get their degree, not a career in football.
In many communities, their college football team means just as much as an NFL franchise. First of all, it’s the soul of the community and greedy owners can’t just take it away because the local authority won’t build a new stadium. Fans love football and it’s a blow for them to lose it in many cities until the spring.
Meanwhile, it always comes back to money but it will have a big effect on the surrounding areas. College football directly affects the development of infrastructure. It will also impact hospitality services like hotels and restaurants around those towns because game days are massive events.
Hopefully, the decision of some major conferences to postpone their restarts until the spring may mean fans will be able to return. When a sports match lacks fans, it loses part of its soul. This could also provide long-term relief to local businesses.
Fans also create an atmosphere. This automatically improves the quality of competition on the field because players feel under pressure. It gives a contest a sense of jeopardy otherwise they just feel like practice games. It will be interesting to see how fall leagues cope with all this.
The lack of team training will have a direct effect on the quality of football we will see on the field. Conferences like the Sun and Atlantic Leagues aren’t even pretending that this is important to them. While they want their games to go ahead, it may end up costing them. Teams will be rusty because of the lack of group practice.
However, this may prove to be a shortsighted view. Casual NFL fans will probably tune in because it’s football but if the product isn’t good then it may put them off watching college games again. This would be a disaster for the future of the NCAA. Ironically, waiting until the spring might be better in the long run.
It’s not exactly a silver lining for anybody affiliated with the college game. However, the NFL could benefit from the serious drop in college football over the next few months. TV networks will potentially be able to schedule more football games in atypical time slots.
First of all, it would allow each conference to play in a bubble in a condensed format. NFL teams don’t play on Fridays and Saturdays but this could be changed this season given the unique circumstances. That would give obvious financial advantages from TV revenue and ensure the likelihood that the pro season finishes safely.
College football relies on its players. It’s the one industry where coaches make more money than the athletes. The players take this hit because of scholarships and the financial implications of making it through the draft. In short, there’s no denying that players’ futures are at risk here.
They have no idea what’s going to happen with the draft next year which is a potential disaster. Furthermore, many of them rely on their schools to support them just so they can stay in education. The conferences are already pushing the NCAA to make guarantees to affected players.
A huge number of players will opt out of potential spring leagues because they want to train for the draft. On the surface, this might not appear like a pro but it will be the kick in the teeth the NCAA deserves. That’s another reason why some conferences are desperate to restart now.
While it will be disappointing that many star players won’t feature for their schools this season, it may convince the NCAA to show their athletes more respect. Young stars like Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence know they will be early first-round picks. They have nothing to lose by sitting out, but it will be a disaster for NCAA conferences.
Finally, let’s hate on the NCAA and the so-called leadership in this ridiculous scenario that’s devolved into disaster. They’ve had months to come together and create a coherent plan but they absolutely blew it. Instead, the NCAA showed its weaknesses, and individual conferences had to make their own decisions.
In the long-term, this is simply a disaster for the NCAA. Nobody will trust them to do the right thing now. In sum, they’ve lost the trust of players, coaches, and even commissioners. They’re more vulnerable than ever before because of their own ineptitude.