You have currently viewed 1 story this month.
IlliniBoard now offers two free stories per month, for more please subscribe.
When you have absolutely no idea what to write about because you're constantly checking your phone wondering if these SOURCES TELL ME tweets are going to turn into actual news being released that the college football season is going to be canceled, just start writing.
I wrote that other post yesterday morning. Then I got the "this is dumb, I can't publish this" jitters and sat on it for a couple hours. Then I posted it at 2:00 or so. Then Twitter blew up with "emergency meeting tonight - college football to be canceled as early as tomorrow". I wrote that article a little tongue-in-cheek (DID ILLINOIS JUST SAVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL?) but I was really asking that question. If rapid testing is the key, is the methodology Illinois is using right now the path to an actual season?
Looks like that's a big fat "NO".
It made me realize that I've been spending too much time thinking about paths. In late June/early July, states started to spike (mostly in the south) and we saw a lot of "if you want college football, wear a mask". Curve-wise, there was still time. Those states were careening towards shutdowns, and those shutdowns would take down college football (at least that's how I interpreted "if you want football wear a mask").
Now I realize that this really didn't have much to do with anything. From everything I'm reading (and I'm reading a lot), it seems like college football was headed towards cancellation regardless of state numbers. I'm not seeing this tied to state and regional outbreaks or any healthcare system overload (maybe I'm reading the wrong articles); everything is tied to the unknowns. Here's a statement from the MAC commissioner when they canceled football:
"Clearly we are charting a conservative path -- and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group," Steinbrecher told reporters on a video conference. "There are simply too many unknowns for us to put our student-athletes in situations that are not clearly understood. We have traditionally been a leader on student-athlete well-being issues. This has not been an easy decision. For the Mid-American Conference, it is the right decision."
Those unknowns would be there regardless of "wear a mask if you want football". They would be there if all schools had set up a rapid testing protocols. The things that I thought might save college football over the summer weren't things at all - at the core, conferences like the MAC saw it as, to paraphrase, "there are too many unknowns to say that we can do this safely". Every statement in that article above, from the NIU AD to the Central Michigan coach, points to that as the central issue for the decision they made.
And if that's the case, there was no "if we can get cases/deaths down under X, we can play". There's no "test before they enter the building every day" that matters. The issue, at least for the MAC (and, apparently, if these reports are true, for the Big Ten), is, to quote the MAC Commissioner, "too many unknowns for us to put our student athletes in situations that are not understood". The only thing that eliminates unknowns would be a vaccine.
Which moves me back to where I was in March - no college sports until a vaccine. That likely eliminates the Ayo and Kofi show, which breaks my heart, but I'm back to not being able to see how it could happen. Yes, basketball has 13 players and football has 85, but those are still players on campus, not in a bubble. If the Big Ten is canceled today, and the statements say "too many unknowns - we can't put our athletes at risk", then I think that clearly means no college sports until a vaccine.
What If The Big Ten Is The Only Conference To Cancel?
Couldn't sleep last night (obviously - later this week I hit six months since I quit my job and we're still out here canceling sports). I read Dan Wetzel's article when I went to bed and then I tossed and turned for an hour. His premise: if the Big Ten cancels, it doesn't mean that the other conferences will do the same. Your mind can spin when it's dark late at night, and my mind spun to all kinds of nightmare scenarios.
What if the Big Ten cancels and everyone else plays? How many Illini players would do what Roderick Perry did and transfer to somewhere where they can play after their conference cancels football? What if the Big Ten and the MAC cancel but all other conferences have a season and all these players migrate south for the fall? I'd calm myself down with things like "no WAY they would allow that to happen" and "most schools are at their 85 scholarship limit", but it's still hard to fight off those thoughts late at night.
With the daylight, I think those fears have calmed. I doubt the NCAA would allow for increased scholarship limits, so in the unlikely scenario that the Big Ten is the only conference to cancel (I mean, there's no WAY the Big Ten would jump into the pool after the countdown while the other conferences laughed while standing on the edge, right? We'd at least do the hand-holding method, yes?), there wouldn't be many destinations for players to immediately grad-transfer out. So it wouldn't be an exodus. There would at least be the promise of spring football.
But man, what a rough night that was. I've been pointing to this season for years, and now, not only will it likely not happen, I could possibly watch that roster crumble. 10 out of 10 nightmare.
Free Luke Ford
This is where my thoughts settle today. If college football is canceled today, I can get on board with it. These presidents and commissioners have access to way more information than I do, and if their information says "we just can't play", I'll accept it. The last thing I want to see is these players put in any type of danger. End of the day, I'm just a guy wanting football to happen, and with the internet I could use that "want" to find an article that would give me a path to that happening. And I could use that article as a weapon to come back and try to get what I want, but I'd still just be a guy with a Fine and Applied Arts degree thinking he solved epidemiology in an afternoon on the internet.
But I'd still feel awful for Luke Ford. He was tweeting last night with the "we want to play" hashtag movement, and it just breaks my heart. Doesn't get a waiver, has to sit out for an entire year, loses his grandfather in the offseason, is ready to dedicate the season to him, and now this. Dude just wants to play and encounters stop signs at every single turn.
Again, if those in charge see it as "we just can't protect Luke Ford", then I can accept it. They've been studying this for months and consulting the experts. Josh Whitman said on his Zoom press conference last week that he's been on calls with the other Big Ten AD's almost daily for months. Any decision they come to has months of debate behind it.
But still, I can't help but feel awful for Luke. What does he have to do to just go play football? If the next college football game is in 2021, he'll have gone nearly three years since he last caught a pass in a football game (9-1-2018 at Georgia). That's just an impossibly long time.
I guess this is the same across everything. Postponed weddings. Funerals done over Zoom. We're all taking a hit these days, and until this thing goes away, we'll keep taking hits.
But when it's finally conquered, man... Free Luke Ford.