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Cal Football

Football in the Spring: Here Are Some Scenarios

August 23, 2020
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Having canceled its fall football season, the Pac-12 will do everything it can to play the sport in the spring. It only makes sense. That’s sense as in dollars and..

The loss of the fall season will cost every school $50 million, give or take. A spring season won’t make up for all of that, but it could provide up to half. That makes for a pretty good motivation to get it done.

“We wouldn’t have said we were postponing if we didn’t think we could play in the spring,” said Colorado athletic director Rick George, the conference’s representative on the CFP selection committee.

Obstacles are not in short supply. First is the format/schedule. How many games? Over how long a span?

Jon Wilner, the well-respected writer for the San Jose Mercury News, proposed a nine-game season running from Feb. 20 through April 17, with a conference championship the following weekend. 

Players could compete in only seven games to limit wear and tear. Even with a short bowl season, the whole shebang would be done by early May, leaving more than three months until the start of fall camp. 

That’s one possibility.

The conference is apparently also considering a much shorter season with the conference divided into pods. Teams could sequester in certain areas (Bay Area, Los Angeles) and then play a round-robin, say five games, without leaving their home base. Then a conference title game, with maybe the Pac-12 champ facing its Big Ten counterpart in a bowl (dare we call it Rose?).

That is a lot of time off-campus, but so what. Most of the instruction this fall will be done online anyway.

Other ideas include a much-extended spring practice, which finishes up with a three or four-game schedule. This way the coaches get to work with the players over a longer period, and the risk of injury or exposure to the virus is lessened.

If the ACC, SEC and Big 12 go ahead with their fall schedules, a lot of the luster is taken off the Pac-12 and Big 10 spring seasons, The college football landscape would be as messy as it ever has been, with the NCAA powerless to correct it. 

The spring idea is a lot cleaner if everybody in the major conferences is on board. A virus outbreak in say, Tuscaloosa, could shut the fall season down entirely and give spring games a boost.

The Pac-12 said it will make a decision in the spring on Jan. 1. The league is obviously hoping virus control and testing will have improved significantly by then. If the protocols haven’t changed, it’s hard to envision a spring season happening.

And things would have to loosen up considerably before having fans in the stands could even be considered. Cutouts in Berkeley? Could happen. 

On the field Cal has invited 250 athletes to come to campus for voluntary workouts. That number is the absolute maximum. Cal has neither the facilities nor the finances to accommodate more. 

Each athlete has to be screened (not necessarily tested) thoroughly every day. The workouts all take place outdoors and the groups are limited to 12. Football would be impossible under those conditions.

And the 250 consists of football players and winter sports athletes. On January 1, the spring sports athletes are going to want in on the workouts. If the capacity doesn’t change, Cal has a problem. 

Speaking of problems, even with a spring season, the revenue generated will leave the Athletic Department still on the shorts. Ironically one of the issues that cropped up with spring football -- eligibility -- has been resolved by the NCAA. No participation this academic year will not cost an athlete any eligibility. So if Chase Glarbers plays as a junior this spring, he will still be a junior in the Fall of ‘21.

That is great for the athletes, but Cal must now fund some scholarships in ‘21 it thought would be off the books. More cash going out. 

Athletic director Jim Knowlton has said some staff cuts are possible, but even a serious number of layoffs will not be enough to cover the deficit.

Cutting sports is another option but Knowlton says it’s a “last resort”, and a close examination explains why. It isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Women’s field hockey would seem to be a place to start. Only two schools west of the Mississippi (Cal and UC Davis) have teams so most games involve lengthy and expensive plane flights. And once a women’s sport is cut, Cal falls into the strict compliance category of Title IX, which would mean severe cuts on the men’s side. Sports that don’t cost much -- baseball, golf -- or are self-sustaining -- rugby, swimming -- might have to go. No money is saved by cutting them,  What you have is Title IX compliance and angry alums. 

Even if three or four women’s sports, gymnastics, lacrosse, volleyball, are cut, the savings is maybe $4 million in a $199 million budget.

Knowlton would be better off passing the hat among the megabuck donors and pick up the $4 million that way. That’s how he was able to balance the current budget and save all 30 sports. 

Other revenue sources are also available. The Pac-12 has promised low interest, high dollar loans, and there might be some money hidden in the stadium endowments that didn’t pan out. Still, money is an issue that won’t go away.

Justin WIlcox said last week he expected some answers by Sept. 1. What he is likely to get are more questions.

Related stories:

Wilcox Says Players Are Still Hard at Work

Pac-12 and Big 10 Canceling Football This Fall
 

Discussion from...

Football in the Spring: Here Are Some Scenarios

2,733 Views | 8 Replies | Last: 23 days ago by mbBear
CalLax
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If the ACC, SEC and Big 12 are able to pull off fall seasons without Covid issues, it's going to look very bad for the conferences that decided to sit it out. What if it turns out the sequestered and frequently tested students who play this fall have fewer cases than those who don't play?
75bear
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CalLax said:

If the ACC, SEC and Big 12 are able to pull off fall seasons without Covid issues, it's going to look very bad for the conferences that decided to sit it out. What if it turns out the sequestered and frequently tested students who play this fall have fewer cases than those who don't play?


If this happens, then there will be plenty of people playing Monday Morning Quarterback and throwing stones. That won't be fair - looking at all the information we have right now at this point, I think the Pac 12 and Big 10 made the right decision.

If it turns out 5 months from now, we look back and see that it would have been better to play the Fall season, it's a moot point. We don't get to make current decisions with future information.
Strykur
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The SEC will play, question is who is going to join the party.
upsetof86
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All I know is that whoever plays the game I will be watching and supporting.
GoOskie
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I won't be watching. Screw the SEC.
“If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed … and we will deserve it”
blungld
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Strykur said:

The SEC will play, question is who is going to join the party.
Figures.
mbBear
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GoOskie said:

I won't be watching. Screw the SEC.
I love SEC football. What they want to do and what they end up being able to do could be two different things.
mbBear
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CalLax said:

If the ACC, SEC and Big 12 are able to pull off fall seasons without Covid issues, it's going to look very bad for the conferences that decided to sit it out. What if it turns out the sequestered and frequently tested students who play this fall have fewer cases than those who don't play?

Isn't it really a school by school situation? And also related to parts of the country?
My nephew is heading out next week to be a freshman baseball player at a D3 school, in the middle of New York state. I think his situation is already more positive than a big university, in terms of the school controlling the kids' behavior, and making them quarantine etc.
But be it that school, Cal, or an SEC school, if a kid or two or 3 "go home for a weekend because they are homesick," "sneak in the old HS gf," or just need to go get pizza, the thing blows up quickly.
I think your scenario is possible, I mean, why not. And you know what-this time next year, we will still be talking about is how good Chase is going to be....or not.
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