Spring College Football Would Have Massive Differences

We are in a weird spot with coronavirus where cases are going way up and at least for the time being deaths are going way down. We are starting to push up on the edge of training camp, and any amount that gets delayed runs the risk of delaying football season. I’d still be pretty astonished if Power Five aren’t running this Fall, but the possibility of playing in the Spring keeps getting discussed.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talked about the idea this week on a Zoom call with reporters. “I think the people who say it’s not [an option], in my opinion, just don’t want to think about it,” he said. “I just think it would be wrong of us to take any potential option off the table right now. I think it’d be very difficult to say the spring is not a potential option. I, for one, think it’s very doable.”

The New York Post, noting that schools like Kansas State, Boise State, Arizona and Houston have stopped their voluntary workouts after coronavirus outbreaks, had a lengthy story this weekend saying it’s “growing more likely” that college football happens in the Spring instead of Fall. One part of the logic was there’s a greater chance of a vaccine existing by that point.

Obviously, this would have major ramifications on traditions and television. Football in the Fall, both professionally and college, is an enormous economic driver of many cities across America. While the NFL is orders of magnitude more significant in this sense than college, football is the backbone of the whole TV industry. If you think the sports media business has dark days NOW, wait till you see what happens if football season is absent from this year’s financial ledgers.

If played in the Spring, it’s quite possible that many of the biggest names in the sport, such as quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, would sit out the season for the NFL Draft. The NFL reportedly has zero interest in pushing back the Draft in the event college football season is delayed. While college football is less reliant on star name players than maybe any other major sport — the NBA is completely driven by stars; NFL quarterbacks move TV numbers; maybe you could make a case that MLB doesn’t need stars either, though they sure miss having them — this would definitely not help interest in the game.

Then there’s the fact that if football returned to the Fall in 2021 there would not be a very long break between seasons. That would be a big problem for body recuperation.

My sense is that, if it comes down to it, a shortened season in the Fall is preferable to a full season postponed to Spring. Who knows what’s going to happen with all this but I’d still be astonished if football season moves to Spring.


Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. Major well known players are likely to sit out this season even if it starts. But it needs to start.

    The fear porn industry is going to crash the sports industry. At least the spectator sports industry. This panic is a ‘panic’ and people need to calm down.

  2. ESPN posted a college football survey regarding this topic. https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/29294992/college-football-coronavirus-confidential-player-survey

    One question: If the season got delayed or interrupted, would you be willing to play two seasons in one calendar year?

    Yes: 37
    No: 28
    Depends: 8

    What they’re saying

    “No, that is not safe for your body with the amount of hits, there would be a massive increase in injuries. Not safe at all.”

    “If that were to happen it would have to be reduced seasons. Both of them.”

    “It hurts my body to think about it, but yes.”

    “Basically, three weeks into the season, nobody is 100% anymore. Lots of people will tear things during the season and put off surgery until the end of the season. Offseason training is the biggest factor in preventing injuries also. It doesn’t make any sense to play two seasons in one calendar year. One, you have to rehab from the previous season, and two, you need to prepare for the upcoming season to prevent injuries. It just doesn’t seem like a reasonable thing to do.”

    “No. Not two seasons in 2021. That’s a little rough. Unless we’re getting paid.”

    “There’s no way in hell I think a linebacker or lineman could go and play a full 12 games and then a bowl game and then be healthy to play again in another few months. Your roster would be pretty diminished. From a team perspective, I don’t think it’s possible.”

  3. I’m actually a little concerned about football. With the obese nature of the trench players and the amount of physical contact they have on each play (possibly more viral load), they’re potential outliers when compared to other people of similar age. They probably wouldn’t die. They may have it rougher than your typical 15-24.

    The other issue is that it’s going to suck if/when a bunch of starters test positive the night before the game and are forced to quarantine for the next 1-2 weeks.

    Football players take more health risks than any other Major 4 sport. They’ll want to play. It’s a matter of whether the big wigs let them.

  4. This makes a ton of sense. Wal Mart is/has been opened. Parks are open. Universities will be open. Yet we shouldn’t have college football? I am sick of these half measures. They are getting us nowhere. Unless you are in a retirement home, or have commodities, you should go out and live your life. This idea that a virus, which contains a mortality rate of .26 (CDC number, likely inflated due to the massive number of elder care deaths), is controlling every aspect of American life is utterly insane. I don’t wish for any business to fail, but if a business is not using common sense, that is what happens. Many sports are going to get a reality check in the near future for this, and other reasons.

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