The major college football season, like the pandemic, rolls on. There are days when the news seems positive, but there are also plenty of reminders that we are not living in ordinary times.
Worse, there are decisions made, almost daily now, that allow for only one conclusion: College football is being played this fall solely for the money; the legitimacy of the season has been trampled by the lust for dollars.
The number of postponed or cancelled games is inching toward 100. Chances are that figure will be exceeded, and it might as early as next weekend. Oddly, it is the calling off of games that provides the only face-saving opportunity for athletic department administrators and coaches. “Health and safety of our players” and all that nice talk.
It’s not only the number of lost games that puts the legitimacy of this season into question. It’s the almost scandalous way in which teams’ schedules are being tweaked simply to ensure a game — any game — is played.
Schedules that were to include only conference games have been “adjusted” (wink, wink) to allow for non-conference opponents.
The dates of games are being changed, largely so Team A and Team B — almost always conference opponents — can play one more game. In the most eye-opening example, two Pac-12 teams learned on a Friday that they’d be playing that Sunday, with the kickoff time set for 9:00 a.m. I laughed hard when a college football analyst complimented the teams for being creative in scheduling. Right, the teams did this.
Let’s not forget those conference leaders who initially took the safe (and proper) path to not play this season caved in under the weight of the almighty dollar. (Side note: You stay classy, Nebraska.)
I understand the financial importance big-time college football has to the overall athletic department’s budget. I understand TV networks must be fed content. I understand players want to play and fans want to watch.
But in 2020, there are asterisks galore. As just one example: A team that plays as few as seven games might receive a place in the lucrative playoff while a team that plays perhaps as many as 10 will be left out. Call me old-fashioned (or worse), but conferences that initially chose to sit out the season abandoned their right to get a team into the playoff, no matter how good that team might be. Nope, not in this college football season.
Meanwhile, sane leaders who are not consumed by the money grab are sitting on the sidelines and waiting for something resembling normality to return before allowing their athletes to play in a competitive event.
They are the men and women to admire.