The college football season remains in a state of flux, with the NCAA’s member institutions and conferences not exactly presenting a united front with regard to how to proceed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As matters stand now, two major conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, will not play this fall. Two others, the SEC and the ACC, are hoping to move ahead with the plans they announced last week to delay competition until late September and move ahead with games. The Big 12 followed Wednesday by confirming its plans.
The rest of the Bowl Subdivision is equally fractured. The Mid-American Conference was the first to announce it would postpone fall competition in the hopes of staging games in the spring. The Mountain West Conference followed suit shortly thereafter. Conference USA had announced last week it would attempt to play, but then one of its members, Old Dominion, decided to suspend fall sports. As of this writing, the American and the Sun Belt intend to play.
Here's the latest on where things stand on the state of play in the Bowl Subdivision:
Big 12 moving forward
On a day when the Big Ten and Pac-12 shut down their fall football seasons, Big 12 presidents decided against stopping its seasons during a meeting Tuesday.
League officials announced a revised football schedule Wednesday that includes one non-conference game on Sept. 12 and the start of conference play on Sept. 26. The Big 12 championship game is scheduled for Dec. 12, but could be moved back one week.
A view of Clemson Memorial Stadium on the campus of Clemson University on June 10, 2020. (Photo: Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)
Big Ten and Pac-12 will not play this fall
Health concerns about the coronavirus led the Big Ten and Pac-12 to cancel all fall sports, while leaving open the possibility of playing in the spring.
"The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement.
The dramatic announcements, which came less than two hours apart, creates major uncertainty of whether other leagues will move forward with playing a season or be forced to shut down with nearly half of the Bowl Subdivision conferences not playing.
ACC medical adviser believes college football can be played in fall
The leading medical adviser for the Atlantic Coast Conference said the risks associated with the coronavirus can be overcome enough to play college football this fall.
“We believe we can mitigate it down to a level that makes everyone safe,” Dr. Cameron Wolfe, a Duke infectious disease specialist who leads the ACC’s medical advisory team, told Sports Business Daily. “Can we safely have two teams meet on the field? I would say yes. Will it be tough? Yes. Will it be expensive and hard and lots of work? For sure. But I do believe you can sufficiently mitigate the risk of bringing COVID onto the football field or into the training room at a level that’s no different than living as a student on campus.”
The ACC is scheduled to start games Sept. 10 with a plan to play 10 conference contests plus an additional non-conference matchup this season.
Massachusetts decides against playing football
One week after Connecticut said it would not play this fall, fellow independent Massachusetts announced the cancellation of its 2020 football season.
The Minutemen were scheduled to face Albany, New Mexico and Akron. Those games have been lost with the respective conference shutdowns of the Colonial, Mountain West and MAC. They were also to play Connecticut and Auburn, with the latter being forced into a conference-only schedule.
"These times have presented us with extensive uncertainty, and we are disappointed for all the members of our fall sports programs who will not have the opportunity to compete this autumn," Massachusetts athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. "We remain hopeful and fully intend to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester."
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