The college football season should be beginning in a few weeks, but there is steady progress towards at minimum postponing the fall season until the spring happening across the country. After the MAC announced its decision over the weekend to cancel its fall season with an eye towards spring football, the Big Ten, Pac-12, and others all seemed to move much closer to the same result.
On Monday, word emerged that Big Ten presidents had voted 12-2 to cancel the fall season as well, becoming the first Power Five conference to call off the season, per a report from the Detroit Free Press among others. The Pac-12 is expected to follow suit, although they have not had a formal vote yet, while the Big 12, SEC, and ACC seem to want to press forward — or, at minimum, kick the can a bit further down the road.
The two dissenting votes came from Iowa and Nebraska, who clearly weren’t able to rally much support to their side as all of the power schools in the conference reached the same conclusion: a fall season simply isn’t tenable. According to the Free Press, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren “prefers” playing a spring season, but to this point no firm decision has been made about that.
A spring season would allow schools to recoup some of the financial losses of a canceled fall season — and, possibly, make more than they would in a fanless fall season should a vaccine be readily available that would allow fans in the stands for spring football. There are obvious downsides to spring football, such as top players not playing if the NFL is unwilling to budge on their draft date, but one would think not playing at all would be worse.
Complicating matters is the budding players union movement taking place in college football, as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and many others from all five major conferences announced their “We Want To Play” initiative late Sunday night. In it, they call for uniform health and safety protocols across the Power Five, along with being allowed to have representation (which is crucial given the waivers and such players are being asked to sign), as well as starting a players union for all P5 college football players.
College football’s powers that be will buck back at the idea of a CFB union, and may be willing to cancel an entire season to eat those losses if it means killing the unionization movement in the process — because that inevitably leads to players being paid and the recognition of them as employees.