College Football's lack of leadership means 2020 may be a lost cause
For all of the talk about COVID-19 causing College Football to cancel their season, it's not nearly the only reason we are on the precipice of galactic change. In fact, I'd argue the virus may not be one of the top 3 reasons the billion dollar industry is going to be put on hold.
Hear me out.....
Reason #1 College Football is in deep shit: LACK OF LEADERSHIP. Yes, that's right, the lack of a unified plan, a unified voice and a lack of forethought is going to doom the 2020 season.
No, the NCAA is not going to come to the rescue. The NCAA has a say in Division II, Division III and the FCS along with part of the Group of 5 schools. Mark Emmert and company have no pull, no schway with the Power 5 conferences. It's a problem. A big, big problem.
Amongst the Power 5 alone, you've got roughly 5 different ideas on how the season should progress. They have their own ideas on testing protocols and it's a big reason why they announced over the past couple weeks, different scheduling plans.
What's made all of this worse: They are now all having second thoughts about playing at all.
Which leads me to Reason #2: Fear of Liability. Yes, you read that correctly. It's not the virus outbreak itself. It's not testing protocols. It's not having kids on campus. It's liability.
The big, bad Power 5 schools with their $50 million per team TV deals are petrified of being held liable for a player or players...or even coaches getting infected and being forced to account for it.
The more information we are getting on what COVID does to some people who develop symptoms scare the crap out of Presidents and Athletic Directors. This article in Sports Illustrated on the damages the virus can do to anyone's heart at any age, scares the crap out of administrators. They don't want for example a 21-year old offensive lineman to get infected, have heart or blood clot damage, then go out on the field and die.
Reason #3 we are heading for the worst case scenario: Organized players. Not in the literal sense, I'm talking about a potential "players association" or a version of a players union. School administrators are petrified of College Football players fully realizing just how much they are worth to athletic departments and demanding their fair share.
Yes, we are finally approaching the "Name, Image and Likeness" era where players will receive some marketing compensation, but this is much, much more specific. The players have been made aware of just how strong their position is to capitalize on a system that rewards everyone but them.
Note: Don't give me this "But they get a free scholarship" crap. That's a line of crap. No, they don't have to pay for attending the school. Yes, they get meals and nice dorms and things like that. For Power 5 schools, it doesn't cost the school anything. It's literally a tiny drop in the billion dollar budget.
What's that? You want to know who makes billions of dollars? How about the University's themselves---athletic departments at the Power 5 level operate independently. The Athletic Association pays for most of the coaches salary, scholarships, cost of the sports and other incidentals. The schools aren't on the hook for much of anything.
Think about it for a minute. Say....for example the University of Florida. 40,000 students paying what, $10,000 a year to attend? That's $400,000,000 dollars of income right there. Just from students. It doesn't include any other academic related issue or pursuit. At all.
Yes, that's right, the schools make more money than the Athletic Departments. A lot more.
Reason #4 College Football is in trouble: Not everyone is in the Power 5. Most of the Football Championship subdivision has ppd the fall season. 13 of 17 conferences have pushed things down the line hoping to play in the spring (unlikely). The Group of 5 schools, you know, the AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt, they're in trouble too. Can they play? Yes. Will anyone notice? No.
Now, if you listen to the OSG Sports College Football Podcast (THE REVIEW), you'll hear us talk about this putting Athletic Departments out of business. No, it won't. It will hurt them for sure, but they will not be shutting down.
All of this is going to lead to a TON of shouting online over the next couple of weeks. There's a faction of people who will scream "Over-reaction!!" "Why are you panicking?" and some who say, they're kids, kids aren't dying at the same rate as adults. There's also a faction emerging who are blaming this on journalists. That faction needs to shut the hell up. Those idiots don't seem to understand the same writers writing about all these issues don't have a job if there's no football. Why would they sabotage themselves? (Another forthcoming column)....
As I write this at 9 a.m on Monday August 10th, the discussions on whether or not we play College Football still is in play. Nobody knows. There's a ton of speculation on what's going to happen, but nobody knows.
The lack of leadership at the highest levels of College Football is why nobody really knows what's going to happen. There's no common voice. No, there's not a common ground.
If we don't have College Football in 2020, don't blame it on the virus. Don't blame it on the coaches. Don't blame it on the players. It's not on them. They want to play but they understand what's going on. It's all about the leadership. And the lack of leadership, the lack of a President or Chief Executive or whatever you want to call it is the reason we're having this conversation.
Would we be debating this without the virus? No, we probably wouldn't. But at some point an issue would come up requiring a unified stance, a unified voice to solve the issue.
And we'd be right back where we are now.