So…That’s a Wrap on 2020

So…That’s a Wrap on 2020


August 11, 2020

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?”)

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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27 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 11, 2020 at 5:56 PM

    Why play indoors when all evidence is there is less risk of spread outdoors?

    90% of this seems logical to me, but I think they made the right call and the other conferences will inevitably follow sooner or later.

    On the topic of player choice, that all sounds nice but technically the players can still play if they want to. Them playing isn’t meaningful without the the environment and structure. The supporting people around the game that turn a scrimmage into official games people – the stadium employees, the medical staff, the bus drivers, the trainers, the camera guys, the equipment guys, etc – they were not asked for their opinions as far as I know. Of course they could find many willing to do the job but there won’t be an ‘opt out and keep your free room and board’ option for most of them.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 15
    Joined: 6/19/2020
    Blue
    Aug 11, 2020 at 7:12 PM

    The virus has a microscopic death rate for athletic 18-23 year olds. The players want to play and the coaches want to coach, but Schlissel didn’t even ask their opinion before deciding to cancel their season. This is not about player safety. Schlissel has been hostile to the athletic department ever since he took office. He’s not doing this because he thinks it’s necessary; he’s doing it because he sees it as a chance to weaken the athletic department and start cutting college sports. This sort of brazen disrespect for students and alumni cannot be tolerated.

    It’s time to fire Mark Schlissel. He is a failure as a president. Tuition growth has outpaced inflation every year since he has taken office and the university has nothing to show for it. It’s harder than ever to get into classes, and now students are paying extra this semester when they can’t even use any of the facilities. He needs to be fired immediately before he can cause any more harm to this university.

    I will not be donating a single dollar more to the university until he is removed as president.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 12, 2020 at 2:35 PM

      I don’t know all the ins and outs of Schlissel’s activities with sports, so I guess I’ll leave that part alone.

      BUT it’s not really the president of the university’s job to go talk to the athletes. The president has 45,000 students and thousands of employees. It’s called delegation, and the person who communicates with the president about athletics is the athletic director (or perhaps the coach). Also, you’re going to face blowback – and potentially see Title IX concerns – if you talk to the football but not the volleyball team. And if you talk to the volleyball team, then you should talk to the cross country team. And what about tennis?

      So again…this is about the athletic director, and I haven’t seen any players calling out Warde Manuel for not talking to the athletes. I’m not saying it happened, but if Manuel didn’t talk to the athletes, then that’s more of an issue.

      Furthermore, if the lawyers and medical experts say sports are off the table, then it really doesn’t matter what the athletes say. Of course a 22-year-old athlete wants to play. That doesn’t make up for potential lawsuits, overall student safety, etc.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 14
    Joined: 9/2/2018
    johnnavarresrightarm
    Aug 11, 2020 at 8:56 PM

    I would love to watch U of M play this year; however, it seemed inevitable that the Big Ten was going to cancel the season. Ryan Day seems poised to join another conference for the year. Say what you want about Harbaugh, at least he’s not a complete meat head like Day. That guy couldn’t care less about player safety.

  4. JC
    Comments: 303
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Aug 11, 2020 at 10:34 PM

    If the kids want to play let em play.

    I feel like there is so much disinformation on either side of the aisle with COVID, the only way I’m going to know the actual impact is looking at expected vs. actual deaths per million from 2018, 2019, and 2020, and see if there was really a huge upswing or not. That data, however, wont be available for a while, nor would I trust whatever mainstream media has to say.

    Related to misinformation, unrelated to COVID, the media intentionally withholding bodycam footage with George Floyd, and just hearing he died after a 30 minute ambulance ride, after a 30 minute hospital stay, has moved my trust in media from little, to absolutely none. That was intentionally (and dangerously) withheld to let the race relations deteriorate.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1332
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Aug 12, 2020 at 6:55 AM

      Nobody should ever die having fallen into the hands of the police … period.

      Under arrest should be the single safest place in America.

      • JC
        Comments: 303
        Joined: 8/17/2015
        JC
        Aug 12, 2020 at 8:35 AM

        In this instance, I think all evidence now points to George Floyd not dying because a cop knelt on him. Autopsy leaked late showed no damage to his neck, no restrictions to his airways. Hospital blood work or the autopsy showed a lethal amount of fentanyl in his system, COVID, along with meth and other substances.

        And nobody? In a perfect world yes. But there are 700,000 police in the states doing a dangerous job. I think there were 30 unarmed nonviolent people who were killed by police last year vs. 100 cops were killed last year. Those 30 people represent 47 million hours of police working (or 2 million days) for every one unarmed nonviolent person killed. Mistakes happen, and 30 people to 100 cops does not make me believe this is a huge issue. Even those 30 people may be non-compliant.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1332
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Aug 12, 2020 at 10:18 AM

          Just stop it.

          Way more people are being killed by cops than are cops being killed by civilians.

          And yes the numbers are in decline but when people think it’s ok for cops to be knocking down people’s doors and then killing them because the people are armed and are protecting themselves against a police assault we have a problem with our ability to reason.

          Feel free to consider yourself within that group people lacking the ability to reason as far as I’m concerned.

          • JC
            Comments: 303
            Joined: 8/17/2015
            JC
            Aug 12, 2020 at 11:54 AM

            Yes, about 1,000 people are killed by cops every year. Majority are armed and/or not complying and/or fleeing and/or displaying dangerous behavior. That’s why I said unarmed nonviolent people.

            The Breonna Taylor no-knock warrant killing should’ve never happened. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. That’s not very common.

            Similarly, I didn’t meet one person who thought that George Floyd’s death was justified when the story originally came out. If you’re completely ignoring the evidence that has been released since then, then feel free to consider yourself within that group of people lacking the ability to reason as far as anyone should be concerned.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 12, 2020 at 12:17 PM

      “The media”.

      Where did you learn these pieces of information?

      • JC
        Comments: 303
        Joined: 8/17/2015
        JC
        Aug 13, 2020 at 10:37 AM

        Where did I learn about the blood report and the entirety of the body cam footage? Not mainstream media outlets. The body cam footage was recorded on a cell phone, and was only picked up by mainstream media outlets recently, and even then, I just googled it and CNN has a 2 minute segment of the body cam footage.

        Instead of them doing their job of actual journalism, they ran with an incomplete narrative that sparked riots causing more than $500M in damage in Minneapolis alone. They do this all the time to incite outrage and it’s dangerous, divisive, and disgusting.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6182
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 13, 2020 at 11:46 AM

          You didn’t answer the question.

          • JC
            Comments: 303
            Joined: 8/17/2015
            JC
            Aug 14, 2020 at 1:05 PM

            Not a mainstream media source is an answer to your question. It’s not a specific answer, because I don’t remember the original source. If you asked me what I had for lunch and I said, “not pizza”, that’s an answer to your question.

            Does the source make a fact less truthful?

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6182
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 16, 2020 at 2:37 PM

            Well you don’t get your news from pizza either so your both responses are equally usefully.

            What kind of car do you drive? Not pizza.

            What team do you cheer for? Not pizza.

            I answered your question!

            I’ll just go ahead and guess that social media is the answer, as is it is for most people who carp about “the media”.

            It’s the same a “FIRE HARBAUGH”. It’s fine that you feel some kind of way but present a better option or it’s just useless complaining.

            • JC
              Comments: 303
              Joined: 8/17/2015
              JC
              Aug 18, 2020 at 1:09 PM

              You can eat pizza for lunch. You can’t drive pizza.

              You can get your news from mainstream media outlets, or not mainstream media outlets.

              I am not on social media.

              Present a better option? I already told you I don’t remember the source I heard it from. If you will only accept things as truth from your pre-approved sources, I don’t know what to tell you.

              What I’m mentioning is body cam footage and a toxicology report. Those are things you can watch or read. To match your social media assumption, I’m assuming someone already told you what to think, so there’s no real hope in telling you to come to your own conclusion.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6182
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Aug 18, 2020 at 3:00 PM

              I asked you for a source of information. You didn’t offer one. Nothing was pre-approved in any way.

              The “I hate MSM” mentality never stands up to much scrutiny.

              • JC
                Comments: 303
                Joined: 8/17/2015
                JC
                Aug 18, 2020 at 4:09 PM

                If your position is criticizing mainstream media doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, then your mind isn’t going to be changed. Any discourse isn’t worth either of our times.

                I offered a position: the way the mainstream media runs with a story to intentionally stir up controversy or divide the country is dangerous. A good example would be the lack of journalism or basic facts around the death of George Floyd.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6182
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Aug 18, 2020 at 5:09 PM

                You’re denouncing, criticizing without offering an alternative. I have lots of criticisms of various media sources but I don’t go around denouncing the entire news media enterprise because they say some things I don’t want to hear.

                I often will take umbrage with some content on TTB but just because I disagree with some things doesn’t mean I say “Michigan Football Sucks”.

                The people who say MSM sucks don’t offer a quality alternative. That is my experience. You are confirming what I have seen before. Maybe one day someone will do better.

                It’s usually a bunch of platitudes but sometimes it’ll be some specific sources that can easily be shot down as inaccurate within 1 minute of searching. Other times it’s just a different completely mainstream source that for some reason they don’t think counts as MSM (“I watch the BBC man”). I’d guess at least half the viewers of the most popular MSM news channel in the USA will tell you MSM sucks. Social media is usually but not always involved even though it’s not usually “the media” so much as the medium.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6182
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Aug 18, 2020 at 5:22 PM

                Other analogous situations:

                Fire Jim Harbaugh! Without giving any kind of viable alternative.

                ESPN sucks! But it’s the channel you watch more than any other because you love live sports and people talking about it.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 1332
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Aug 12, 2020 at 7:01 AM

    Nobody wants the liability, nor should they.

    My opinion … in a thoughtful society, there should not be any liability. Nor should there be consequences for anyone choosing not to play. Absence of negative consequences for choosing not to play should provide protection against the consequences of having played.

    But that would be in a thoughtful society.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 12, 2020 at 12:15 PM

    One the nice things about sports in general and football specifically is that it connects people with different backgrounds and beliefs. I’m going to miss not having it this year but human welfare, health, and safety trump fun, money, and entertainment.

    • Klctlc
      Comments: 89
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Klctlc
      Aug 12, 2020 at 4:28 PM

      You have the tense wrong Lan, Sports used to connect people of a different background. Now we race specific national anthems. Good times.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 12, 2020 at 5:05 PM

      The anthem doesn’t need to be played before sporting events and isn’t in many contexts.

      • Klctlc
        Comments: 89
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Klctlc
        Aug 12, 2020 at 7:05 PM

        Nice try. I agree it does not need too but have you been to a mlb game. NHL game or nfl game recently? It is played and has been for awhile. Point still stands, the horse left the barn on sports bringing us together.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 12, 2020 at 9:07 PM

        Disagree

  7. Avatar
    Comments: 19
    Joined: 11/23/2015
    Burge333
    Aug 12, 2020 at 8:48 PM

    Great post Thunder! Also intersting is the comments and how the delve into politics and race almost immediately.
    I for one don’t think waiting until spring is the end of the world, it is a great opportunity to learn more and put on a season in a safer manner, which will have a higher liklihood of success. The Big 10 and Pac 10 can learn from the conference(s) that try, if any do.
    I realise the US currently going through significant social and political issues, but generally we can look at the world as a positive or negative. This is a change but also a great opportunity to adjust to something that could be really fun.

    Great blog!

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 12, 2020 at 9:12 PM

      Agree. Not the end of the world if they are able to play in Spring. That said, I wonder if anything will be different.

      Buying time is great if you can come up with a plan that makes sense. Given that even a pandemic is getting politicized it’s hard to see consensus forming. But maybe a conference or two will be smart enough to figure it out.

      My guess — we don’t see college football till fall 2021.

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