This afternoon the Big Ten announced that they won’t be playing out of conference games this season. The conference is saying that they don’t want to travel long distances. The Big Ten also feels that its athletes will be safer if they are all tested under a universal standard.
Basically what the Big Ten is telling teams like Towson, Monmouth and the entire MAC is that they don’t think small schools have enough money to test their athletes as frequently as the big boys see fit.
If the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 choose to follow suit and play only in-conference games then it could produce a doomsday type of scenario for the small FBS schools that rely on paycheck games against the Power 5 to keep their athletic departments in the black.
For football independents Army, BYU, Liberty, New Mexico State, Notre Dame, UConn and UMass it could mean armageddon. First off, I must admit that the thought of a football season without Liberty and Notre Dame leaves me slightly aroused. However the thought of a season without any small schools pulling off upsets over the big boys would make college football feel a lot more like the NFL. That would make me sad.
Let’s be honest here- there’s nothing more Michiganish than looking down the nose at the poor folks and refusing to mingle with them for fear that their plight in life might somehow be contagious. I sincerely hope that the other power conferences don’t leave the little guys out in the cold.
That being said, there have been two different divisions within the NCAA’s FBS for a very long time.
For now, the Big Ten’s decision is unique, but if all of the conferences decide to go to a conference only schedule it will create a lot more questions. Among those questions is whether schools will play their eight or nine game conference schedule as it’s already written. Would teams add more conference contests to get closer to a twelve game season?
As it stands, Ohio State will no longer go to Eugene to play Oregon. Michigan will not play Washington in Seattle. Wisconsin will not play Notre Dame. Michigan State won’t face BYU or Miami. Penn State won’t travel to Blacksburg and face the Hokies. Wisconsin and Notre Dame will not face each other at Lambeau Field.
There’s still a lot that needs to happen for us to have a proper football season, but if we do how will the Big Ten’s scheduling decision effect their teams in the eyes of the College Football Playoff?
Should a 9-0 Ohio State get into the playoff over an 11-1 team that played a full season with a normal amount of bye weeks? A college football season creates attrition. Minor bumps and bruises turn into nagging injuries that turn into the difference between a win and a loss. Ohio State and the rest of the Big Ten won’t have to suffer through as much as other teams in the Power 5.
Prepare yourself now, because I can promise you that this argument is going to envelop you on Twitter by late October and Kirk Herbstreit will be on your television trying to make Ohio State’s win over Rutgers an important data point.
While that would be annoyingly false, it would also mean that we had a college football season, and the odds of that are getting slimmer by the day as cases rise everywhere.
It is still unknown what the SEC and the rest of college football will do with their schedules, but if people don’t start wearing masks in public then there will be much more than just out of conference games cancelled. That is not an opinion. It is a fact.
For now, all we can do is hope that numbers of cases and transmissions improve quickly. If they don’t, we won’t be watching college football this year.