Today, the Big Ten Conference announced that they will cancel all non-conference games for the 2020 season and play a modified, ten-game conference schedule. It is expected that the other four Power Five conferences will follow suit at some point in the near future. The fallout will be astronomical for college football and could filter down to everything, including the NFL Draft.
Ohio State-Oregon should have been a must-see game. Michigan-Washington, Iowa-Iowa State, Penn State-Virginia Tech, Notre Dame-Wisconsin are all games that NFL scouts would have circled on their calendars. Now we won’t get any of them.
If other conferences go this route then you can kiss Alabama-Southern Cal, Auburn-North Carolina, Texas-LSU, Tennessee-Oklahoma goodbye. What about the four annual contests between the ACC and SEC? South Carolina and Clemson have played every year since 1909.
We also won’t get to see small school players see how they stack up against the bigger competition. Who wasn’t looking forward to seeing how North Dakota State QB Trey Lance handled the road environment at Oregon. How would OT Dillon Radunz do against Ducks rising sophomore Kayvon Thibodeaux? We won’t get to see Northern Iowa OT Spencer Brown against Iowa. VMI QB Reese Udinski against Virginia…negative. And this doesn’t even factor in the players from the group of five schools that could also have improved their draft grades against the bigger teams. It is just a sucky situation all around.
And none of this gets into the financial aspects of it all. Bowling Green is set to lose $2.5M from their canceled Big Ten games. Their AD voiced his frustration quite loudly. Southern Miss stands to lose $1.85M if its game against Auburn is canceled. Northern Iowa is going to lose $650K from its matchup with Iowa. And these are only three examples. Every school is screwed in their own ways but the little guys are really getting boned.
Of course, this may all be wishful thinking. We may get no college football. New cases of the COVID-19 virus are increasing exponentially across the nation. These cases are especially growing across the southern half of the United States, where a majority of NFL Draft prospects will play college football. There is a real possibility that we get zero college football games in the fall. Earlier this week, the Ivy League canceled all fall sports. While the Ivy League is usually lucky to have one player drafted a year, it would shock no one at this point if FBS leagues called off their sports.
Even if it is decided that football will move to the Spring (which is an idea being tossed about), the NFL Draft will be altered significantly. The NFL is likely not moving their annual late April draft date. This means any player likely to be selected would sit out a spring college football season. No Trevor Lawrence for Clemson, no Justin Fields for Ohio State, no Micah Parsons for Penn State, no Penei Sewell at Oregon, well…you get the idea. Teams and amateur scouts like myself will be reliant on 2019 game film. Will there be no pro days like this year? What about all-star games like the Senior Bowl?
The whole situation sucks, quite frankly. As a fan of the game, as a person who has watched 8-14 college football games during the season a week for the past 7 years, it is heartbreaking to think about a year of no college football. However, the proverbial bed has been made. And unfortunately, we all may have to lie in it now.