Bowlsby weighs in
by Jim Buzzerd
It’s another week closer to the scheduled beginning to the 2020 college football season, but we’re no closer to knowing whether or not there will even be a season. Last week Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was speaking on the topic. Right now Bowlsby can only speculate as to what the college football season may look like. Bowlsby and his staff have been communicating regularly with member school’s presidents, athletic directors and medical personnel working on various scenarios that may be faced this fall.
“You really don’t see the end of it in sight,” Bowlsby said. “The virus is going to be around and with us for a while. We are going to have to learn to coexist.” Bowlsby said. “In the end, it is going to be governor’s offices and public health officials that tell university leaders that it is safe to come back.
Bowlsby is looking at mid July as the time of reckoning. “The next sixty days are really critical for us. If we aren’t practicing by the middle of July in football or anything else, it is going to be hard to start on time. We need a couple weeks of acclimation in the sport of football for kids that haven’t been on campus and training at the level they might have been previously. And we need something close to four weeks for preseason camp to get ready.”
Not going on any figures here, but football is the main revenue source for most Power Five schools. Any disruption of the upcoming season will have an adverse affect on other sports at most universities.
“The biggest reason football has to be a high priority for us is because of the revenue it drives. It not only drives the bulk of the media revenue but it drives the bulk of the gate receipt revenue as well. Absent that revenue, it may be difficult to have other sports competing at the same level that they are used to because it is going to be difficult to fund those things.”
Even if athletes are allowed to return to campus this summer, there is an increasing likelihood that many colleges will need to open the fall semester with online classes. Will that meet the criteria classes being in session?
“School has to be in session because football players on college teams are student-athletes. You have to be going to college. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if the new normal becomes online education, in part or in whole, that football players or volleyball players or soccer players couldn’t be taking classes online just like the rest of the students. I suspect some institutions may be a hundred percent online. And if they are, and if that is also what student-athletes are doing, I think that meets the criteria.”
If all goes well and the college football season can begin, the eyes will be the fans in the stands. Attendance is bound to suffer. “If there are going to be fans in the stands, I don’t know if they are going to want to sit cheek by jowl next to somebody they don’t know. You would have to expect that maybe the crowds would be a little bit soft, especially early in the season.” Bowlsby said.