The Rollercoaster that is College Football

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Graphic created by Kate Van Etten

Andrew Hale, Assistant Sports Editor

Most college students, fans and alumni enjoy watching their respective teams battle it out on the gridiron every week during the fall and winter seasons, but this college football season, as most things have been in 2020, is unprecedented. Fans of teams in the Pac-12 will have to postpone their game day traditions until a later date because as of right now, no team in that conference is playing in 2020.

However, there’s no need to worry if you’re a fan of the SEC, Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, AAC, Sun Belt and Conference-USA because those conferences will be playing college football in 2020.

The question you may be asking yourself is, “Why are these seven FBS conferences playing, but not the Pac-12?” Well, many important factors played into why this conference, and at one point the Big Ten, decided to call it quits in 2020.

BIG TEN

I’ll start with the conference that holds near and dear to my heart, the Big Ten. For starters, the main and obvious reason the Big Ten got shut down was because there have been COVID-19 outbreaks throughout multiple Big Ten schools. 

Schools like Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois are amongst the 90 D-1 schools that have had at least one positive COVID-19 case, but these respective schools have all been pretty effective in dealing with the pandemic aside from Rutgers.

After tests on Aug. 4 concluded that 28 Rutgers football players tested positive for COVID-19, the Big Ten had to delay their original schedule release. These 28 positive tests were ultimately a deciding factor for the Big Ten to halt the season.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement released on Aug 11.

So there’s no wonder the season was put on hold. If player safety, both mentally and physically, is “at the center of every decision,” it should be no surprise that the Big Ten conference decided to take this route.

And then on Sept. 16, the Big Ten conference decided that football will be played starting Oct 24. The major reason for the reinstatement of football was due to new testing protocols and new testing methods that give the ability to test players and staff more rapidly.

After a few months of going back and forth from having Big Ten football to no football at all and then back to having football, fans can look forward to eight conference games, no bye weeks and title games starting Dec. 19.

PAC-12

Soon after the Big Ten temporarily suspended its season, the Pac-12 followed in its footsteps. The Pac-12, similarly to the Big Ten, cancelled for obvious reasons.

Other than outbreaks throughout the Pac-12, the main factor for the conference was that they didn’t feel that it was appropriate for teams to be isolated inside of a bubble. You can’t blame the Pac-12 for thinking this way. After all, these are college kids who aren’t being paid. 

Even though the college athletes aren’t receiving compensation, they aren’t losing everything in 2020. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told athletes that they will not lose their scholarships, even with no fall sports season.

Objections

Some schools in the Big Ten and Pac-12 didn’t take the postponement of the season too kindly. Nebraska and Ohio State were pretty outspoken after the season’s suspension. In the Pac-12, a player revolt was created.

Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost has publicly stated that he wants to play football in 2020. Frost and his team have protested against the Big Ten’s decision and have even contemplated the idea of playing outside of the Big Ten in 2020. How far will that go? No one’s sure, but it will be interesting to see what Nebraska decides to do.

Ohio State and its players have also disapproved of this situation. Starting quarterback Justin Fields launched a petition along with the “#WeWantToPlay” movement to try to reinstate fall sports in the Big Ten.

Even before the Pac-12 terminated their season, a group of Pac-12 players made a list of demands for player safety if they were to play in the fall. If COVID-19 didn’t take out the 2020 fall season, this player union would have.

No one knows what will happen in the 2020 fall season, not even the schools that decided to play. The season could be a success or a terrible failure. There is no in between. Will we see the Pac-12 on the field before January? Probably not, but there are so many things to look forward to in the next few years of college football.