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Possible College and Pro Football Season Scenarios

May 2, 2020
Colleeg football and NFL season scenarios

With almost all sports on hold right now, we’re hoping that the time left between now and the kickoff of the 2020 football season is sufficient time for the powers that be to sort out how exactly how to make it work (for College and Pro Ball)…and we are ready for some real weekend betting action. Patiently waiting for that “Joe Exotic” pardon payout just doesn’t provide the same thrill.

When it comes to both College and Pro Football, cultural and economic incentives to save the season have us feeling optimistic that there will be football – even if it looks a little bit different than what we’re used to. There are various possible scenarios that have been outlined, some more or less desirable…and some downright intriguing: Imagine an on-time start with Pro Football (with games on Saturday and Sunday) and a delayed College Football season that leads to a 7-8 month football season with a highly tolerable 2-3 month offseason in 2021.

College Football Scenarios:

1. Scenario 1 – Full Cancellation. Although unlikely in our opinion, this is obviously a worst case scenario. Again, there’s too much on the line to not avoid this scenario at all costs – but the Institutions (and broad range of businesses) that risk to lose may only have so much control if health and/or government officials provide guidance or regulations that makes any kind of season impossible.

2. Scenario 2 – Full Season (No Fans or Reduced Capacity) – It’s hard to imagine College football without the passionate fan-bases that fuel it, but I’m guessing we all agree that this option is one we would prefer if the alternative is no football at all. It’s unlikely, though, that student athletes will be allowed to practice and prepare for a season if no other students are allowed on campus.

3. Scenario 3 – Late Start/Less games – Another idea that’s been thrown around involves starting late (perhaps starting with conference play and skipping non-conference games). This would mean waiting until late September or early October for College football to kickoff.

4. Scenario 4 – Delayed Full Season – Imagine a post-Super Bowl college football kickoff and bowl games in May. Bizarre, right? But it’s being seriously discussed…and even though we’d all hate to have to wait that long for college football to begin, it would eliminate those post-football season blues and give us something to be excited about at the very start of 2021. The major concern for this contingency plan is reduced time for player recovery between seasons.

5. Scenario 5 – Some play, some don’t. This would mean regional play with teams likely staying closer to home and some parts of the country playing and others not depending on more local considerations.

Decision makers that will ultimately determine the fate of the College Football season include state governors, federal officials, the new NCAA medical advisory panel, and NCAA subcommittees.

NFL Scenarios:

1. Scenario 1 – Full Cancellation. As with College Football, there’s too much at stake to imagine that the NFL doesn’t figure out how to make it happen. It’s possible, though, if the experts determine that it’s just not safe and if we don’t continue to see positive health trends leading up to fall.

2. Scenario 2 – On-time Start/Empty Stadiums. It’s probably more likely we’d see NFL games with no fans than College Football games with no fans. With this scenario, the season could kick off on time and start with empty stadiums that gradually start to fill if and when social distancing recommendations relax.

3. Scenario 2 – On-time start/Reduced Capacity – Think socially distant stadiums with every other row blocked out and space between seats.

4. Scenario 3 – Slightly late Start/Full Season – This scenario would mean waiting until October or later to start the regular season and would push the Super Bowl out a few weeks to the end of February. BYE weeks would likely be eliminated.

It’s clearly too soon to tell how the 2020 football season will play out. The advantage football has, though, is the time needed to create contingency plans that basketball, hockey, and various other sports did not benefit from amid the outbreak. What we do know, however, is that the people responsible for having these conversations all know how important football is to America aside from the giant economic considerations. A kickoff – however it might look – just might represent not only a return to the sports we love, but also a much needed return to some sense of normalcy.