College Football Staggers Out of a Wild Week With Nagging Doubts

After a wild week in college football, there’s finally a little clarity on who’s planning to hit the gridiron this fall.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 are out, postponing their fall sports seasons. The remaining three so-called Power Five conferences -- the SEC, ACC and Big 12 -- say they’ll play.

Fans, players and coaches are now left to figure out what exactly all of this means for the sport, including:

  • Will players on teams that aren’t playing get another year of eligibility?
  • How will teams deal with a new freshman class coming in when many seniors could be returning?
  • What about bowl games, the College Football Playoff and the Heisman Trophy?
  • Is a spring season possible?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division 1 Council is recommending players who choose to opt-out or who play for a team that cancels its season to be granted an extra year of eligibility. The organization extended a similar benefit to athletes in spring sports that were canceled, like baseball and softball, in March.

That extra year of eligibility will make managing rosters difficult. With a new football freshman class ready to begin enrolling in December, teams that don’t play this upcoming season could find recruits waver on their commitments or choose to transfer out of fear of losing out on playing time.

College Football Staggers Out of a Wild Week With Nagging Doubts

With high school football canceled in states such as California and Washington, some rising seniors are transferring across the country to get in one last season. Quarterback Jake Garcia, who has committed to playing at the University of Southern California, is leaving his California high school to play at Valdosta High in Georgia. High schools in Iowa are also fielding interest from out-of-state players.

The Heisman Trust, which awards the Heisman Trophy to college football’s best player each year, hasn’t said if it plans to proceed. Preseason favorites like Ohio State University’s Justin Fields won’t get a chance to take the field this year.

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced Thursday that it wouldn’t sanction any fall sports championships, but that decision has no bearing on major college football since its champion is crowned by the College Football Playoff, which could ratchet up the pressure on the hold out conferences to postpone if they experience any additional outbreak.

College Football Playoff director Bill Hancock is hopeful a champion will still be crowned this season. “With the CFP we are hopeful, but it is too soon to say,” he said in an interview with the Sporting News.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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