Major college football conferences have a pretty high level of autonomy from the NCAA, so there might not be much for the organization to do aside from guidance on how to proceed in that sport. President Mark Emmert says he is very concerned about the upcoming fall sports season.
In an interview with ESPN‘s Heather Dinich, Emmert says that delaying the fall seasons could make sense. In college football, the Pac-12 is reportedly expected to push things back to mid-September. The Big 12 is considering another approach, moving games up to “Week Zero” at the end of August, and spreading the 10-12 game season over the course of 16 weeks.
“We do get to see what happens when people return to campus,” Emmert told ESPN, in arguing the merits of a delayed season. “You get to learn a lot from what’s going on with professional sports. We get to see how the testing protocols emerge and how that can be more effective, especially if we can get antigen testing going, for keeping track of the virus on campuses. The fact a delay could provide us with time to do all that could be very, very useful.”
“Also, the move to a smaller number of games can be really helpful because you’ve got bigger breaks between games then, and you could provide flexibility around schedules,” he added. “…If you have to quarantine a team or a big chunk of a team, you’ve got time to do that and you’ve got time to adjust. […] I think having fewer contests and doing them over a delayed period of time could be very, very helpful.”
Highlights from my convo w/ NCAA prez today: https://t.co/eM4ThITP7P
— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) July 28, 2020
Mark Emmert’s interview comes amid uncertainty surrounding the college football Power Five leagues’ schedule releases. Both the Pac-12 and ACC seemed to be inching towards releases, but it appears that they are okay taking time into August to make an announcement.
It is still possible the ACC presidents could vote today. They might not, but can't count it out. Some presidents ready to act on advice of medical experts. Hesitancy from ADs b/c of NCAA uncertainty around fall championships. Bottom line: Nobody knows what will happen today.
— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) July 29, 2020
“As July comes to a close this week, the biggest news might be no news at all,” Dinich reports in another article for ESPN, as the Power Five leagues may opt to delay any decisions once again. “The 15 ACC presidents and chancellors will meet Wednesday, but they might not vote on a preferred scheduling model until their Aug. 5 meeting. Any decisions this week could simply be to push forward into preseason camp, which begins on Aug. 7, to further evaluate the impact of the pandemic after students return to campus and actual football practice begins.”
“I believe a proper timeline could be a check-in point at the end of July, which is what we believe in at the SEC, and then let’s see what happens as we start training camps and fall practices,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said. “It’s a lot easier to pull back than it is to ramp up. I think really you could look at the middle of August as a realistic timeline to say, ‘OK, are we ready to start on time?'”
If Bjork is right, there’s a decent chance that FBS college football practices start, without any real clarity on whether a season will begin later that month, in early September, or some time later.