How we got from a schedule announcement to college football players attempting to unionize in one weekend
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How college football unraveled over the course of the weekend
If the last time you checked into what was going on with Georgia and college football was Friday evening, boy oh boy have things taken a turn. All the excitement —or anger — that transpired following the SEC’s announcement of the two additional SEC opponents for the 2020 season seemed to dry up Sunday evening amid reports that the Big Ten was on the verge of canceling its fall season and trying to get other conferences to do so.
Along the way, a prominent Group of 5 conference announced it would not be playing a fall season and some of the biggest stars in the sport took to Twitter to voice their desire to play this season and ultimately form a College Football Players Association.
So how did we get here? And what comes next? We’ll try our best to recap all of that below.
Friday evening: The SEC announced the additional opponents for the 2020 college football season. Georgia drew Arkansas and Mississippi State, two of the weaker teams in the SEC West. For the most part, the league didn’t try and make the heavyweights’ schedules — Georgia, Alabama, LSU and Florida — any more difficult than they already were. The same could not be said for the likes of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee.
But for the most part, it felt normal to discuss college football and a 2020 season again. Georgia fans seemed fairly happy about what transpired that evening.
Saturday morning: The first big news of the day was that the Mid-American Conference would not be playing college football this fall. Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher made it official on Saturday morning, making the MAC the first FBS conference to postpone all fall sports for 2020. The University of Connecticut had announced earlier that it would also not be playing football this fall.
“I’m crushed by this decision. I am so disappointed,” Steinbrecher said. “It’s just crushing that we can’t facilitate the opportunities this fall because of circumstances around us. I’m heartbroken on that. The flip side is I take comfort, and I would say our presidents take comfort, and I assume all others that we’re making decisions for the right reasons.”
Steinbrecher did add that the league was going to try and play in the spring. When Power 5 leagues began canceling non-conference games, the MAC was among the hardest hit financially, as the league figured to lose millions of dollars from those games if they were not played, specifically with the Big Ten.
The MAC as of this writing is the only FBS conference that has still announced it will not play this fall, but it might not be that way for long.
The Big Ten announced on Saturday morning that is was pausing practices and that will remain in only helmets for the time being. The conference is set to be the first of the Power 5 to return to the field, with Ohio State and Illinois set to play Sept. 3. The ACC’s first game is set for Sept. 10 while the SEC and PAC-12 will start on Sept. 26.
Saturday morning also saw a report from David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press stating that Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren preferred a spring football season. A meeting between the Big Ten presidents had been previously scheduled for Saturday,
To put a rather ominous bow on the events of the morning, Yahoo’s Pat Forde tweeted the following:
Prominent industry source: "I think by the end of the week the fall sports will be postponed in all conferences."
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) August 8, 2020
Based on the events of Sunday, it might not even take that long.
Saturday evening: After the bleak news of Saturday morning, arguably the biggest star in the sport wanted to make sure his voice on the matter of whether a season should be played this fall was heard.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence tweeted out his desire to play football this fall. The tweet was retweeted over 10,000 times, with other prominent college football players such as Georgia’s Demetris Robertson also expressing that same feeling.
I don’t know about y’all, but we want to play.
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 8, 2020
— Demetris Robertson (@d_rob4) August 8, 2020
Lawrence wasn’t the only big-time college player to vocalize this feeling, as Penn State’s Sean Clifford and Pat Freiermuth also weighed in on the matter on Saturday night.
— Sean Clifford (@seancliff14) August 9, 2020
Since day one coming back to campus the Penn State Football staff and medical experts have put our health and safety first, above anything else. The guidelines put into place keep us safe while playing the game we love. We are ready to play and we want to play.
— Pat Freiermuth (@pat_fry5) August 9, 2020
Much like the discussion around canceling a 2020 season, players’ insistence on wanting a 2020 season grew louder on Sunday.
Sunday evening: At around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday the odds of season happening seemed to go from bad to worse. Forde and Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported that the Big Ten is moving towards canceling the fall 2020 season. They also reported that the conference, which was the first to move to a conference-only schedule for the 2020 season, is attempting to engage other Power 5 conferences on a uniform decision for the 2020 season.
ESPN reported on Sunday evening that the Power 5 commissioners held an emergency meeting on Sunday, but no major decisions had been made.
If the Big Ten elected to follow through with the decision — Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reported on Sunday night that the conference is, “on the cusp of canceling the season, but the league isn’t ready to announce,” — the PAC-12 would be expected to follow the Big Ten’s lead.
The PAC-12 and Big 12 presidents both have meetings scheduled for Tuesday, with the ACC having one on Wednesday and the SEC going on Thursday. Those meetings represent the chance for the conferences to decide whether or not to postpone the 2020 season to next spring.
With the season pushed to the brink once again, Lawrence further voiced his desire to play this season. And a number of other players also voiced their opinion on the matter.
People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19 (1)
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 9, 2020
Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes –
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 9, 2020
There’s been too much work put in!! #WeWantToPlay
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) August 10, 2020
— L U K E F O R D🇺🇸 (@lukeford82) August 10, 2020
I don’t want to go Home for a reason .. 🤦🏾♂️ everybody home / hometown not peaceful people get kilt every day / week in my city ..
— Kylin Hill (@H_Kylin) August 9, 2020
I want to play… even if we gotta be locked in .. nothing at home for me🤷🏾♂️.
— Lorenzo Lingard JR (@d1champ99) August 9, 2020
— Ja’MarrChase (@Real10jayy__) August 10, 2020
Let’s play safely !! But those ‘in charge’ quit with the back and forth !!!
— Monty Rice (@RiceMonty) August 10, 2020
— Ryland Goede (@rylandgoede10) August 10, 2020
Lawrence, along with Fields and several other high-profile players, added that players ultimately want to, “use our voices to open communication & trust between players and officials; ultimately create a college football players association.”
By Sunday night, the #WeWantToPlay hashtag was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States.
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 10, 2020
— Najee Harris (@ohthatsNajee22) August 10, 2020
— Master W. Teague III (@MasterTeagueIII) August 10, 2020
— Ryan Hilinski (@ryan_hilinski) August 10, 2020
What comes next: At some point this week the Big Ten will either allow teams to continue to practice in preparation for the 2020 college football season or decide to pull the plug on a fall season.
The big question is whether or not the SEC in particular will choose to fall in-line with what the Big Ten does. Uniformity is clearly a desire at this point, but would the SEC go through all this trouble of trying to set up a season, and delay the start of it so it could try and understand the impact of bringing students back on campus would have on teams, only for the Big Ten to make the decision for the conference?
That doesn’t seem all that well-thought-out. Respected college football reporter Tony Barnhart wrote on Sunday he doesn’t expect the SEC to follow in the Big Ten’s foot-steps right away. Al.com’s John Talty also echoed those sentiments that the conference seems to want to hold firm on its decision at the moment.
But if the other Power 5 conferences all dip out, how likely will the SEC want to be the only one on the proverbial dance floor? We’ll have to see how things go this week and if it gets to that point.
The fat lady might be singing when it comes to there being a college football season in the fall of 2020. And you can bet that no conference wants to be the one that has to turn off the speakers and hit the lights as the last ones to come to a decision.
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- 3 things on Georgia football schedule reveal: About time Bulldogs got a break!
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