With the increasing cases of coronavirus across the nation, there has been a cloud of doubt that has been cast upon the college football season. It was then followed by the Ivy League canceling their fall sports which was a huge domino waiting to fall. If you remember correctly the Ivy League canceled their basketball tournament first leading to dominio effect for all the other conferences which eventually canceled all the madness in march. Will the Ivy League also cancel the college football season?
On July 9th the Big 10 made the big decision to make their season conference only. This was decided for all Big 10 sports in the fall and would now put pressure on other Power 5 schools to follow in their footsteps. The decision affects a total of 36 teams scheduled according to ESPN. This would then push the Pac 12 to make the same decision the day after on July 10th. It would cancel even more games and even lose Portland State about 1 million dollars for the two games they had against Oregon State and Arizona. So what is next for the rest of the Power 5 conferences.
The Big 10 made the executive decision to do the conference only schedule first. This would cancel some very important games for the rest of the power 5 but lives some interesting scenarios on how they are going. to reconstruct the schedule. The Big 10 has a strong conference overall but there are a lot of weak points in there. If the conference ends up adding a few more games to the schedule I don’t think this would help the stronger teams very much. They could end up getting another three weak opponents which doesn’t help their SOS. The teams also wouldn’t be able to control their SOS anymore leading to the question if the college football committee should change their criteria. How ever the Big 10 should precede would determine a lot for the CFP.
The Pac 12 are the biggest losers from the recent events as they are no deprived of any schedule boost they might have had in the past. They are officially in crisis mode as they haven’t even got any teams into the playoffs since they only made the playoffs twice which is the worst of any conference. Their scheduling will have to be very creative in order for them to even have a chance. This is not saying I don’t think anyone will make it all the way without a loss. This is simply saying that if the other conferences decide to also have conference play the committee would take an 10-0 Oklahoma who is 4-0 against ranked opponents vs 10-0 Oregon being 2-0 against ranked opponents. (conference championships factored in). When you look at Oregon schedule it’s just not as tough without that game against Ohio State early. I think this conference is going to have the toughest time rounding out the schedule if they decided to add more teams to it.
The Big 12 is another conference that would rather keep the non-conference than not play it. They already play every one in their 10 team conference and value those non-conference games more than most. During the beginning stages of these talks, there were rumors that all the conferences in the Power 5 were going to collaborate together to make a schedule. This has now been tampered down with the Big 10 and Pac 12 decisions. There have been talks now with the Big 12, ACC, and SEC which would be very interesting for scheduling. If this does end up happening it would be beneficial for all sides because of the recent developments. I would much rather take a one-loss Texas who lost to Alabama vs a conference only undefeated Utah. Either way, Bob Bowlsby is determined to keep the Big 12 schedule or at least add other teams to it. This determination, if safe could end up paying off big time.
The SEC has the most cupcake non-conference schedule in football. They will most likely have to suspend those games and turn to some other form of non-conference. With so much talent in the conference, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up doing the conference only. They are strong enough to do so and would be the easiest route for them. If they decided to try to work something with the Big 12 and ACC they would have an even better schedule and even could put a second team in the future CFP. I think the SEC likely ends up not adding anyone to their schedule and cancels non-conference play. It is the easiest and still brings the champion into the playoffs.
The ACC is arguably the worst conference out of them all in the past few years. With no one being remotely competitive with Clemson the conference has been on a downtrend. Sure you have Clemson winning championships but the rest of the conference is still down there. I would not be surprised at all if the ACC and Big 12 worked something out after the SEC opted out of non-conference. Without it I don’t know what is in store with the lack of competition. One loss from Clemson would be the end of their college football run. They will need something added in order to help them just in case.
All in all the college football season is still in question. There is a likely scenario that there will be no season at all thanks to the early Ivy decision. America will determine the fate of college fall sports and that is something that is dangerous in itself. Hopefully we can rally like we always do and come back even stronger. Hopefully we can see a college football Saturday.
Top picture by the Seattle Times