ATHENS — Minds raced to the concept of a spring season as the collegiate football narrative raced forward after the Big Ten and Pac-12 folded their fall athletics programs.
The SEC and ACC have made their intentions to move forward toward a fall football season clear, while the Big 12 is thought to be on the fence.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued the following statement on Tuesday after the Big Ten and Pac-12 made their decisions official.
“I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take these actions today. I remain comfortable wit the thorough and deliberate approach ha the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for student-athletes.
“We will continue to further refine our polices and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day.”
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Could a fall college football season still happen with three of the five Power 5 conferences and three of the 5 Group of Five Conferences still standing?
Time will tell, just as spring football cannot be totally ruled out despite the obvious challenges it would present.
Former Florida and Ohio State national championship coach Urban Meyer said “No chance,” when asked about the possibility of a spring football season.
“You can’t ask student-athletes to play two seasons in one calendar year.”
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said spring football was not a priority when asked about it in a July 15 Sirius XM interview, but left the door open ever-so-slightly.
“If circumstances dictated, I’m not going to take that completely off the table, but it’s certainly not on the list of priority points at this point,” Sankey said.
“But I don’t think we have the luxury, given what’s happened in our environment, in our culture, to just say, ‘No’ to some options.”
Sankey followed up that, “I want to be abundantly clear, because I know what happens on social media. Is it on the list, ‘Yep, always has been.’ Is it a priority on that list? ‘No, I think we have other priorities before we get there.’ ”
So are we there yet?
The biggest challenge, obviously, is that several of the current NFL drat eligible players would surely opt out with the 2021 NFL Draft scheduled for April 29 through May 1.
Sankey made it clear he wouldn’t blame them, and that’s likely why Meyer was so quick to dismiss the notion.
“That would be a tough comparative with spring football with high level players,” Sankey said. “So they’d all have to go through a decision-making process.”
Sankey used former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as an example to illustrate why top-level players would likely be missing.
“His injury was the second week of November, and yet he’s able to have great medical support, surgery with world leaders, rehab,” Sankey said. “So you see him in January at the Citrus Bowl and he’s the fifth pick in the draft.”
The potential for injury would undoubtedly lead players with NFL draft grades to opt out and begin preparations for their professional futures.