Mere days after UConn became the first major college football program to graciously bow out of playing this season due to the coronavirus, the Mid-American Conference—yes, an entire conference—will follow suit.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the conference announced that it will postpone its football season until the 2021 spring semester in order to preserve the health and safety of its student-athletes.
“This was not an easy decision but one that we had to make in the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches and institutions,” David Sayler, MAC Chair of the Council of Director of Athletics and Miami Director of Athletics, said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to give our student-athletes an experience that allows them to participate at the highest level in the safest manner possible. After consulting with our Medical Advisory Panel, we felt there were just too many unknowns surrounding the pandemic for us to proceed with the fall season.”
A favorite of ESPN and CBS Sports viewers, #MACtion will certainly be missed this fall. More importantly, this decision could persuade more powerful conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 to do the same, which would cause the entire NCAA landscape to implode. And with Pac-12 presidents and chancellors set to meet on Tuesday, according to ESPN, a decision to pull the plug could be imminent.
“Nobody wanted to be the first to do it,” a Power 5 coach told ESPN, “and now nobody will want to be the last.”
“It feels like no one wants to,” A Power 5 administrator said, “but it’s reaching the point where someone is going to have to.”
There’s also this scary bit of info, courtesy of ESPN:
Sources said team physicians around the sport are noticing cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by viral infection, in college athletes who have had COVID-19. College administrators last week saw the Facebook post from Debbie Rucker, mother of Indiana offensive lineman Brady Feeney, who wrote that her son was still dealing with potential heart problems.
“What we don’t know was really haunting us, and that’s why we came to our final decision,” [Northern Illinois athletic director Sean] Frazier said. “That’s part of the data that our presidents used. This mom gave us a play-by-play. That stuff is extremely scary.”
Between this and all the chaos going on in Major League Baseball, you would think the NFL would reconsider its plans to move forward with its upcoming season, but nope. As callous as it sounds, the NFL is actually looking to capitalize on college football’s potential absence.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL likely will move games from Sundays to Saturday, if college football doesn’t proceed this season. It’s unclear whether the games would be broadcast, streamed, or distributed on a pay-per-view basis, but the league likely would backfill the vacant Saturday windows with NFL content.
So yes, that means in the middle of a global pandemic that’s threatening the health and safety of billions of people, the NFL will be churning out four days of football a week: Thursday Night Football, Saturday, Sunday and Monday Night Football.
I can’t say I’m surprised, but I guess the NFL will be keeping an eye on college football’s demise like the rest of us. Expect some big announcements in the coming days.