The Big Ten university presidents voted on Tuesday to postpone the 2020-2021 football season with the potential to play in the spring.
I generally try to avoid these “big picture” posts because a) I think they’re boring and b) talking heads inundate us with discussion.
But I think there are a lot of people showing how dumb they are, and like all of us, I think I’m less dumb than them.
So let me address a few things.
THUNDER, DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE FOOTBALL IN THE FALL OF 2020?
Yes, I do but I might be wrong and it doesn’t matter anyway. Let me explain.
I think if the players want to play and the coaches want to coach, then they should play. There should be no punishments for sitting out. If you want to sit out, you get a redshirt year and thus get a fifth or even sixth year of eligibility if you want it.
But here’s why it doesn’t matter:
People want players to sign waivers saying they will not hold the schools liable for their medical issues, if they indeed get COVID-19 and suffer because of it. There is a big concern of myocarditis and other issues – including, uh, death – having to do with COVID-19.
Those waivers do not and will not hold up in court, and they were deemed illegal by the NCAA already. So if the schools are going to be held liable for potentially millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits, then there’s no way the schools are going to play.
Let me use Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields as an example. Fields is a potential first round pick. If he were to get COVID-19 while playing football and develop life-threatening complications, not only is he a human being whose life is valuable; he is also someone who could potentially earn hundreds of millions of dollars as an NFL quarterback, spokesperson, brand developer, etc.
How bad would that lawsuit be for Ohio State to handle if something were to happen to Fields and his family sues them for $300 million based on his NFL worth and his potential endorsements that he’ll never get?
So players should play if they want to play, but the legal landscape of our country makes it almost impossible for that to happen.
BUT THUNDER, ISN’T SCHOOL STARTING? THEY CAN PLAY FOOTBALL IF KIDS ARE IN DORMS AND GOING TO CLASS!
This is dumb, and you should feel dumb for making this argument.
(Also just as stupid: “They just ran into each other for 60 minutes, but then they can’t shake hands after the game?”)
If you have unprotected sex one time, you might get pregnant.— Touch the Banner (@TouchTheBanner) August 10, 2020
If you have unprotected sex 1,000 times, you might get more pregnanter.
Now apply this to COVID and football games.
Some exposure is bad. More exposure is worse. Nobody would say that if you’ve had unprotected sex, you should just keep having unprotected sex because, hey, you didn’t get a disease or get someone pregnant the first time.
You gotta wrap it up and maybe be careful with how many people you get freaky with.
If I’m a student in a dorm, I’m exposed to the germs that are shed by fellow students at my school.
I’m not exposed to the germs that are shed by students in Piscataway, State College, East Lansing, Columbus, etc.
(And, oh by the way, due to Title IX, you probably can’t just play football because it’s outside and transmission is rare outside. If there are opportunities for men to play football in the fall, you also have to open things up for other fall sports, which includes indoor activities like water polo and volleyball. So while a football player might be unlikely to get COVID-19 on a football field, that doesn’t mean a Michigan volleyball player couldn’t get COVID-19 from a Rutgers volleyball player.)
THIS IS THE END OF THE BIG TEN!!!! EVERYONE IS GOING TO TRANSFER!!!
First of all, we have no idea how many conferences are going to cancel. So transfer where? Reports indicate the Pac-12 is on the precipice of canceling/postponing. The MAC and the Mountain West have already canceled. So have UConn and UMass and ODU.
The ACC, SEC, and Big 12 are still planning to play. But will they?
And how many scholarships does the SEC have? They can’t just absorb a whole other conference, because those schools are already full of scholarship players. The limit is still set at 85 for any given team.
Any additional players are going to have to pay their own way. And if, say, Nico Collins transfers to Auburn for a year to showcase himself for the NFL, some backup or freshman is going to get pissed off and transfer to Ohio State or Maryland or Michigan. “Hell, I’m not going to play this year, anyway, so I might as well go get myself a jump start on my next school.”
Talented players want to play, and they’re not all going to get on the field in the SEC or the ACC. If anything, if the SEC soaks up a bunch of superstar talents in 2020, that’s going to open the door for 2021 and 2022 recruits to see available playing time at Michigan, Ohio State, etc.
IF YOU’RE SO SMART, WHAT SHOULD THE BIG TEN DO?
I’m open to suggestions, but I think this is a realistic plan, or at least a good starting point:
- Plan to play a spring season. Play a 10-game conference schedule that was planned for the fall.
- Start the season indoors. Wherever and whenever possible, play indoor games. Let Michigan and MSU play their games at Ford Field, etc. Yes, it’s cold and and it’s not ideal, but nothing is normal right now. Maybe Michigan plays at noon and MSU plays at 7:00 p.m. Maybe Michigan plays on Saturday and MSU plays on Sunday.
- Limit players to 8 games. If you’re concerned about players taking too many hits, limit each player to 8 games in spring 2021 and 8 in fall 2021. That way they will play a maximum of 16 games (the equivalent of one NFL season), but with three months off in between.
- Lobby for the NFL to push back the draft. I know the NFL has said it won’t push back the draft, but everyone needs to be – and has been – flexible. Hold the draft in June or July so all the spring football participants can get their exploits on film.
- Forgive a year of eligibility. Kids who opt out of the 2020-2021 season should maintain that year of eligibility. If 2020-2021 is your fifth year of college football, you should be able to still play in 2021-2022.
- Allow up to 25 signees. There are limits to scholarships for incoming recruits. If a team has players “opt out” of the 2020-2021 season, they should still have the ability to sign 25 players. Yes, it’s a cheat in a way, but it’s a one-year cheat. So if you have 3 players opt out and come back for an extra year, you could potentially have 88 scholarship players in 2021-2022. If the schools don’t want to pay for those 3 extra scholarships, that’s fine; then they only get to sign 22 initial counters in the class of 2021.
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive plan. There are a lot of things that need to be addressed. It’s a brand new landscape.
But this is not the end of the world. It’s not the end of the Big Ten. And it’s not the end of good football and good players in the Big Ten.
Life will go on.
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